Month: January 2012
Hin Suay Nam Sai Resort, Rayong
I’m in Rayong with 110 students and 10 teachers on a business English education project. It’s hot and sunny here, but these are some of my favorite beaches in Thailand.
For me, Rayong is the perfect mix of convenience, desolation, and value for money. You can eat fresh seafood under the tall shade trees running almost all 12 kilometres up the coast, then run down to the water and pretty much be alone for hours, if you’ve chosen a good spot. The one hour separation from the fleshpots of Pattaya keeps most farang away, and Rayong is primarily a resort town for Thais – this fact in itself makes Rayong appealing, but it also serves to keep prices down and keep parasitic vendors, taxis, and ladyboy hordes away.
Anyway, I’m here for work. My unofficial role, as always, is as facilitator, so I’m about to go facilitate the hell out of the breakfast buffet followed by a facilitative facilitation of a morning swim in the sea.
This resort, which literally translates as Pretty Rock Clear Water Resort, is an interesting mix of crusty old failed bubble venture and competent staff. The climb to and from the beach is a bit hard for young kids, otherwise I’d think about bringing the family here some time.
Stuck like a boss
Yes, I got stuck.
I arrived a bit late to the first wedding of two only to get trapped in the parking lot due to idiots who had parked every which way Undeterred, I squeezed through a couple of pickups to a promising dirt field that appeared to be damp, but solid. A couple feet into it, the car bogged down a bit, but not wanting to get stuck, I pushed forward… and got stuck further into the field.
Anyway, lemons into lemonade I say. This is what my car would look like slammed, with brown tires:
Eventually, a truck came and pulled our trusty Cefiro out of the muck, and I took it to get washed before Nam came home.
By the way, this is the semi-finished parking lot at the new wedding hall of Marin restaurant in Maha Sarakham.
You have no idea how close I am to showing this with a straight face to my ultra-serious Japanese class for university teachers tomorrow.
OTOP Marketplace Update – Economic Recovery Edition
The OTOP (One Tambon One Product) marketplace I wrote about a couple years ago is now booming. For the first few years of its existence, it struggled along as a ragtag gathering of unsuccessful vegetable vendors and farmers selling homemade charcoal and surplus rice from the curbs. I visited twice a week to buy organic vegetables and freshly slaughtered/butchered meat (that are, as yet, completely unappreciated in this neck of the woods) for years, and nothing ever changed. The entire market seemed to be run by people too old and frail to work any other jobs, and I was in a small group of regular customers who were barely keeping them going. It was depressing, and I dreaded the imminent demise of my fresh-from-people’s-backyards produce source.
The change came very slowly. From about a year ago, things started picking up. Food stalls that set up on the perimeter of the covered market area (actually in the parking lot) in the evening started appearing. I recognized some of the vendors from other markets around town: A grilled egg vendor from the bi-weekly night market on the Khamriang curve, a fried doughball cart from my university’s food stalls, a smoothie vendor from downtown. I asked around, and there was no consensus as to why vendors had started gathering, except that there was no fee for setting up there in the parking lot – with good reason, as it might have been impossible for most shops to regain any fee at all in sales back then… but the traffic slowly increased. More vendors and more customers started appearing, a fried chicken stall here and a prepared-entree-in-plastic-bag cart there. Villagers started coming in by the pickupload in the evenings to buy cheap veggies, and day laborers would wander through for cheap snacks to go with their white spirit dinners.
A couple weeks ago, when most people were still off work and visiting home from the big cities, I found myself trapped in a crowd at the marketplace. I had to wait in line to buy pork and there were more stalls than ever. Compared to a year ago, the marketplace seemed to be doing twenty times more business. It made me feel all warm inside for a second, and then I remembered how much I hate crowds.
Still, I have a soft spot for this market so I want to see it grow, I guess… It was so unpopular for so long, people who drive by it to work every day forget that it’s there… Whoever thought I would be nostalgic for the bad old days?
Tasty Links for the New Year
In no particular order:
Charles Mann is shown by Bruce Schneier just what a joke our airport security has become and makes a case that “the continuing expenditure on security may actually have made the United States less safe.”
The disposable academic: Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time
Summary: Way more supply than demand, doctors.
List of animals with fraudulent diplomas
Surprisingly, this is not an alternate title for the previous link.
Best wedding photos ever
A full viewing of Shaun of the Dead would have made it the best wedding reception ever.
The Magna Carta Essay
Before the internet taught us that there’s no such thing as copyright or intellectual property, just how the hell did students finish their assignments?
Reconsidering Star Wars IV in the light of I-III
A “tongue-in-cheek alternative reading of the Star Wars saga”(link and quote from Kev)
South China Brand Sewing Machine
A close friend of ours has bought an antique foot pedal-type sewing machine that had been converted to motorized belt drive to use for her alterations side business. She got it for about 600 Baht (less than $10), and I would have bought it for that much just to use as a lawn ornament.
I’ve never heard of this brand, but for all I know there are a million out there.
“…credible and meaningful in foreign cultures.”
The university where I teach, Rajabhat Maha Sarakham, used to be a teacher’s training college. My uni is just one Rajabhat institute of about 40 spread all over Thailand, that were turned into universities by the king with something called the Rajabhat Act in 1995. Therefore, when we clean up, move, or renovate offices and I see asset tags with “teacher’s college” or the like, I know I’ve found something at least 17 years old, and sometimes much older.
The last time somebody cleaned out a storage room on the 3rd floor, above my office on the 2nd floor, a bunch of cool old stuff was put out to be thrown away. I’ve started documenting what I’ve saved, and this is one of my coolest finds:
I’d never even heard of the United States Information Agency before, and I can only assume that “U.S. Information Service” was an alternative name for the agency.
Now if I can only find a working 16mm film projector!
Mina in the lobby of a Cambodian Casino
New years day, 2012. It was our first trip to Cambodia. Casinos are always sad, but this one was even more so, packed full of dirty gambling addicts and their offspring. Why did we go? We were close to the border, at Nam’s grandmother’s house in Surin Province. We wanted to see it. Done. Never have to see a Cambodian casino again.