So I haven’t written an entry in a couple of days. It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything or even that they haven’t been fun things. I’ve been in Khon Kaen. While I’d be lying if I said that it was the vacation destination location of the year, it ended up being very nice and, in fact, I think I could safely say that it has been my favorite location thus far.
While Bangkok has its charms and the majesty and drama of the Wats rival anything I’ve ever seen, this glimpse into the daily lives of a couple tens of thousands of students at Khon Kaen University has been great! I’ve really enjoyed meeting friends of Emily…some of her students…even a missionary from the church that publishes my favorite podcasted sermons! Plus…I got to rent a motorbike! Yes, you read right, my 5 year two-wheeled drought has finally lifted. We zoomed around the streets around the university like nobody’s business. Not to worry, though, when it came time to go to the other side of town, we took a Sawntau (truck-bus thing) rather than risk our necks on the lively streets of a Thai city…wisely so, as it turns out. The streets around the university were like a ghost town compared to the streets once we got in town (it was finals-time for the students, so there wasn’t a lot of activity).
Something that impressed me greatly was the openness and generosity of the students. Unlike America where open and active friendships between instructors and current students are discouraged, they are encouraged at KKU. I found that the students were wonderfully open and loving people, eager to meet me and practice their English. Not only that, though, but at any point whenever the two NAU teachers need help or advice or company, they’re bound to find at least one of their students who is willing to throw out any plans they had at the time and jump into the situation with a gusto! This was especially evident to me with the help that we received when renting and returning the motorbike.
Anyway, my time in Khon Kaen was somewhat uneventful…peaceful and slow compared to the business of Bangkok. I got to:
• Try Lao food (which, to my untrained tastebuds, is suspiciously similar to Thai food)
• Forage for something resembling a western breakfast at 7 Eleven
• Negotiate a fare with a tuk tuk driver just to have him stop and admit to us he had no idea where we wanted to go
• Discover a taste for Som Tham (I’ll be learning how to make that one, so gimme some time before asking about it, hopefully I’ll be able to share the experience).
• Read about the legends of Hanuman while waiting for Emily to grade papers
I think the only thing I didn’t get to do was try homemade coconut ice cream. Apparently it’s an experience that isn’t to be copied anywhere else. I’m no so convinced, but we’ll see.