A Day with BCNU Students

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
Trip End Jan 25, 2013

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Saturday, January 19, 2013

This morning the MC students met their BCNU buddies at breakfast. There are 11 students. The BCNU students are rather hesitant in speaking English. They have not had the exposure to foreigners as the BCNC students have. It will be interesting to see how these relationships develop.

After breakfast we went to visit an orphanage in the center of Chiang Mai. We visited this orphanage our first or second year in Thailand. The orphanage cares for children 3 months to 6 years. They have a capacity for 60 students: both male and female. The children are divided into 3 groups: 3 months to 18 months, 1 years – 3 years and 3 years – 6 years. There is only a few paid staff; the majority of workers are volunteers. The orphanage is named after the lady who donated the land and money to the orphanage. She died of breast cancer a month after her donation. It was at this time that they changed the name in her honor. The operational budget was supported by the interest generated from her estate; however, with inflation this revenue is no longer enough to cover the expenses. The remaining budget is made up of donations. The woman who spoke to us about the orphanage was a 90 year old retired nursing faculty member from Chiang Mai University. She came to Chiang Mai 54 years ago when Chiang Mai University began. She contributes her longevity to never being married thus never having a headache. Everyone got a laugh out of that comment. There are many single nursing faculty at BCNC and BCNU so this comment has come up on several occasions since Saturday. It always gets a laugh. After we were informed of the orphanage's background we were given a tour of the children’s play area. We had the opportunity to visit the classroom of the 1 to 3 year-old children. They were so cute. The teacher was teaching them English. After the lesson she asked them if they wanted to sing or dance for us. It was unanimous; they wanted to sing. Each child came up to the teacher and sang a song using a megaphone. We would all say "gang mak" (very good) and clap. That got them all excited and everyone was smiling. After the songs the teacher told them it was playtime and that they could play with us. All of a sudden the children dashed from their chairs and into our arms. Everyone’s heart just melted. The little boy that I held hung on for dear life. He laid his head on my shoulder and wrapped his arms and legs around my trunk. He stayed like that until “potty” time. However, right after his bathroom trip, he immediately returned wanting me to hold him. I held him until it was lunchtime. He did not want me to put him down for lunch. It was heartbreaking. My desire to adopt is as strong as ever despite my aging body. It took me a while to recover from this experience.

After the orphanage we went to the Airport Mall for lunch, shopping and dinner. The BCNU and MC buddies ate lunch, watched a Thai movie and ate dinner before returning to BCNC. The students hung out with their buddies in the evening.

Greg and I ate lunch with Nong Maew and 2 faculty from BCNU. We ate at a Japanese restaurant “Oshi” which is very different from Japanese restaurants in USA. In this restaurant you sit at a bar or a table. There is a conveyer belt full of assorted food on small plates that weaves around the restaurant. As you sit at your table, you pull off the food that you want and place it in a hot pot that is sitting on your table. The hot pot is divided into 2, so you can have 2 different broths. Everyone places his or her food into the pot so it can cook. When it is cooked you scoop it out into your bowl. This is a social meal so it takes time. The restaurant tells you what time you must be done as it is very busy and people are waiting to get in. We had approx. 1 hrs for lunch. I did not ask what happens if you are not done eating. We had plenty of time so it was not an issue for us. They also had all you can eat sushi, different kinds of rice, fruit, salad and ice cream.

After lunch we walked the mall. Well, we started to walk the mall. Nong Maew has a battery supply pack that she keeps in her purse that charges cellphones, iPADS, iPODS, etc. We had not seen something like this in the USA so we had inquired about this device. As we were walking the mall, Maew took us into a computer/electronics store that carried these devices. We were very careful shoppers so it took us a while to make our final decision. After MANY minutes, we were ready to check out. Greg had given me $2,000 baht while in the store so I could pay for the device. The store was very small, extremely crowded with very tight quarters. I had handed over everything to our sales rep. so we could check out. She said the final price was $2,040 baht. Greg got out the additional 40 baht and handed it to her. She stood there waiting for the additional $2,000 baht. Everyone looked to me as if I still had the money but I did not. So, this is where things got bad. I could not remember what happened to the money. I thought I had given it to the sales clerk. She claimed she never received it. We looked around the area and we were unable to find the money so Greg got out another $2,000 baht and paid for the device. We left the store and we thought that was the end of it. Well, a young lady sitting outside of the store heard our story and suggested to Maew that the store manager review the security footage to see what happened to the money. We told Maew not to bother. It did not matter who made the mistake it was ok. However, she needed to know. So, she went back into the store and requested the security tape be reviewed. For the next hour or so, the tapes were reviewed. Everyone in the store was watching b/c the screen was right at the check out counter. It was so EMBARRASING. We watched a minute-by-minute replay. We got to the part where Greg gives me the money and then I step back too far that I am no longer visible on the camera screen. SO, we had to pull up another camera angle and view the transaction from another angle. By this time I just wanted to crawl under the shelf and die. Well, long story short… Greg handed me the money and no sooner did he give me the money, he took the money back. He placed it in his back pocket and there it stayed. Of course, everyone watching the screen made “ah ha” noises and started speaking in Thai as soon as they saw this. It was all Greg’s fault; at least that is the story I am sticking to. Now, you can begin to see why the statement from earlier in the day kept resurfacing. I had a splitting headache by the end of the day and was totally humiliated. I have a warranty on the device but there is no way that I am ever stepping back into that store again so the warranty is useless at this point. This “farang” will forever be engrained into the memories of those store workers. It was times like this that I am glad I do not know Thai. Who knows what was said in my presence. I did not care I just wanted out of there. lol

Shortly after that ordeal we had to go pick up our group photo for the farewell party and also some luggage that we had repaired while in Thailand. After we ran these errands we returned to BCNC. Pi Jip and Kuhn Anan picked Greg and I up at the school and took us I out for Vietnamese food. The Vietnamese food was nothing like what we have in the USA. It was really good and very unusual. Everything came with a separate dipping sauce. There was a lot of fresh vegetables and food that we had to assemble. The dish we had to assemble used a thin square wrap (similar to a spring roll), a slice of pork sausage, and thin slices of garlic, cucumber, star fruit and a sauce. After you folded the wrap around the above contents, you enclosed everything with a lettuce leaf and then ate it. The combination of foods did not seem appealing but it was very tasty. Apparently this dish is very popular b/c they sold “take-home” kits with all of the ingredients. I am going to try and take kit home so family can try it upon our return home. This dinner was fun and very good. It was a very long day and I was ready for bed as soon as we got back to the apartment.
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