Sunday, June 03, 2012

Thailand Tales 2

Beautiful, quiet, and hot--those are my first impressions of Thailand.

So far we haven't ventured out much but hope to do a lot more when we're recovered from jet lag and once I get in my head which way is north, which I am told is the mark of a Midwesterner in a foreign land.  Bill Bryson said that, I think--that if you're in London and you see a couple on the corner of a crooked side street, holding a map and arguing about which way is north, you can bet they're from Minnesota.
Yesterday about 2pm I succumbed to that terrible jet-lag sleep that is like being hit on the head with a 2 by 4.  At 5:00 I managed to rouse for supper but people had this odd thing they kept doing--talking to me and asking questions--and I was in such a fog I could hardly answer, so I flopped back in bed even though I knew I would surely wake up at 10 pm and be wide awake all night.

Oh well, there's not much you can do when you're knocked out by a 2 x 4.

I woke up a few times but always went back to sleep, and slept until almost 5 a.m., which computes to nearly 15 hours.

Not sure I've done that since I was a newborn.

It was wonderful.

Did I tell you about the flights over?  We flew Korean Air.  Wow.

They served hot meals with real stainless steel tableware.  The flight attendants had the prettiest uniforms ever.  And they took very good care of us, and smiled for 11 hours.

IGo is a Bible school/ outreach training center in a gated community in the city of Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Students come here, mostly from the eastern U.S., for up to two years.

I'm still piecing this together, but I think this is how it works: each semester consists of three terms.  Each term consists of three weeks of  classes followed by about ten days out in the real world.  So all the students here now have just returned from an intense trip.  I know some of them were in India but I don't know about the others.

Paul will be teaching History of Missions for the second term of this semester, and all the students take three other classes besides.  Then they all go off on trips for over a week.

I think there are about 25 students.

Meanwhile there are all kinds of other ministries spidering off of this one and also others that have loose connections with IGo but aren't under the same official umbrella.  There's a ministry to former prostitutes, and church planters, and a few others.

Oh, and there's also a language center that's under the IGo umbrella, where locals can come and learn English.

The building is like a long, white, rectangular 4-layer cake.  If you take one slice off the east end, that's the apartment where we're staying.  The first floor is like a store front, with plate glass windows and lots of shelves, so we don't hang out there.

The second floor has a little kitchen, that's all, because half of the first floor has a high lofty ceiling that takes up half of the second floor.

the third floor has a big bedroom for Paul and me, a little study area, a bathroom, and a washer.

The fourth floor has another big bedroom for Jenny plus an open area that serves as Steven's bedroom plus a small kitchen area.  And a bathroom.

So we have lots of space to ourselves.  And I hope that by the time we leave I will have very toned leg muscles from going up and down all those steps.

Now picture a pretty wide slice of the cake next to ours.  That's the dining area on the bottom, chapel on the next floor up, classrooms above that, girls' dorm above that.

Another narrow slice follows, and that is the English language institute, with its own storefront entrance, and a cool coffee bar on the second floor.

The guys' dorm is in there somewhere, so I might have misplaced a slice or two.

The end slice of the building is a dreary-looking internet cafe that has no connection with IGo.  I guess that's a pun.

Most of the staff families are scattered around this--I'm not sure what to call it--it's pronounced something like "pontoon" and is like a culdesac/gated community except much bigger.

Crime is not a huge issue here so while you don't want to flaunt your laptop, it isn't like Kenya where you had to constantly be on guard.

There's no AC here but there are fans everywhere you turn, so we survive.

Oh--how could I forget the Smucker moment at the Seoul airport?

We landed after 11 1/2 hours in the air and headed through that vast clean airport for our next gate.  As we started through a wide hallway lined with shops, we noticed this odd parade going on.  There were probably 30 or 40 people, all in bright satiny red or royal blue robes with full gathered skirts.  Some held these things like red silk Quaker Oats boxes at the end of a broomstick, and some had spears.  Their hats were black cylinders with spiky feathers or porcupine quills sticking out the top.

These 30-some people were all spread out over a pretty large area, with as much as 10 or 15 feet in between them.  There was a vague drumming coming from somewhere, and they would take a few steps, slowly, then stand still for a while, then march on, all with absolutely expressionless faces.


Paul is a Smucker, which means he knows where he wants to be and he charges full speed ahead until he gets there, and doesn't notice little hindrances in his way.

Like people in wild satin costumes, parading solemnly through the airport.

Jenny was sure he was going to go marching right through the middle of that parade and not even notice.

Such horror was not to be borne, and she was frantic.

Between her efforts and mine we got Paul stopped before he made some major cultural faux pas.


This was the closest picture I could find:


  1. I like the cake metaphor - it makes such a nice picture in my mind.

  2. Pontoon? ALOL! :-D

    Mooban. It means "neighborhood".

    Or maybe you meant "Koolpunt Ville" (that's how it's spelled, but to pronounce it correctly it's more like "koon-la-pun-vill") which is the name of the specific neighborhood IGo and the staff live in.