I drove by the other day just to make sure it was still there (it’s a few doors down from my co-worker’s language school). It was pretty much unchanged from the time this drive-by photo was taken in mid-2019. In Thai it’s actually pronounced, “oosak.”
I miss it already, it was the first and only motorized vehicle I’ve bought new.
I took these photos at the hidden lake behind my faculty building, Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University.
The biggest COVID wave so far spread through Maha Sarakham from a couple months ago, so my university postponed the new term until this week. I’m teaching four Public Speaking classes per week online. This is what a typical class looks like, with about 2/3 the students:
I tell them they only have to turn on the camera when they speak because some of them are on weak connections or are connecting through mobile data plans, and it might save them money as well as improving performance. Thailand has good connectivity, though, and a lot of businesses share free wifi, so I use the first week to pinpoint who has internet problems and suggest they find a better hotspot or solution.
There are a lot of problems teaching online at a Thai university. The biggest problem is net connectivity and speed. The second biggest problem is that the university staff and teachers are horrible at teaching and doing their jobs. Doing it online just compounds the issues.
One of my current side hustles is teaching teachers how to teach online and helping them get set up at home. Some of these teachers are still doing grades by hand (even when teaching online with every grading management tool available), so you can imagine that the transition is rough. The IT staff are so bad at their jobs, they can’t keep our website up for everyone to register for classes or make class changes, haven’t figured out how to install a security certificate in the ~20 years they’ve had the domain, and can’t even issue student ID numbers or email for freshmen before the term starts (which are necessary to register for classes and to attend online classes). There are also problems on the student side, but now, well into the second year of online classes and lockdowns, most have figured out how to at least attend their teachers’ pathetic online lectures, and that online classes are actually a good way to try and get their parents to pay for an iPad (definitely not required).
Nam and I love teaching online, though. Before we started, I had already set up a Twitch streaming system for Mina with condenser mic and various cameras, so we adapted that and added to it over time. This is what my setup looks like now.
On the vaccine front, I went in to get a Astra Zeneca jab at the vaccination center set up at my university a few weeks ago, and was told at the last stage (there were 3 stages to navigate), “no foreigners!” So, fuck them and their jelly vaccine shots, I guess (a bad batch of vaccines in Thailand was recently found to have turned into gel). Nam and I have paid a private hospital the full price for 2 Moderna jabs each – 3,400 baht/person. No telling when the government will get off its ass and actually get these vaccines delivered, but we are told, “as early as October.” Looks like all of my classes this term will be online!
Somebody brought their bull to graze on Nam’s mom’s property. This is a fairly normal occurrence in rural Thailand.
And this is as close as I dared get to it.
I was wearing a shirt and tie because I’d just come back on the way home from teaching a training course at the Maha Sarakham Provincial Office of the Comptroller General, by far the longest name of anywhere I’ve ever worked (and even a long name by Thai standards). The first thing I had the trainees do was memorize their place of work in English.
Anyway, this bull was just normal. Not angry, not scared, but not indifferent to our presence, either. So that was cool.
This is one of the last photos I took on an outing before COVID lockdown. I checked, but they weren’t actually serving rodents of any kind, so we can chalk this one up to interesting Asian naming.
Oh, and yes, their school is abbreviated as “MUDS.” They all wear athletic shirts that say MUDS on their backs once a week on “sports uniform” days.
Over at the Bangkok Post, I just stumbled upon the reason why Play Bar, De Loft, and Image club in Maha Sarakham shut down at the same time a few years ago – they got busted for serving minors: 11 pubs ordered closed for 5 years in Maha Sarakham
One day, Play Bar was just gone. Like, knocked down and smashed into rubble. We heard the guys running it opened another place, but it just didn’t have the same history as Play Bar… That was one of the first chill outdoor places here, and it all started less than ten years ago. Now there’s twenty places like that.
These are actually the most popular type of tourist attraction in Maha Sarakham, after dark at least. During the day, I would say SermThai Plaza shopping mall wins first prize.
Holy shit, no wonder Northeast Thailand is so misunderstood:
The closest the Mekong River comes to Maha Sarakham province is around 170 kilometers away, in Mukdahan. One of the tributaries of the Mekong, the Chi River, does flow right through Maha Sarakham province and city, so it is connected, but if you want to use that logic, I nominate the Adriatic Sea as a wonderful Thing to Do in Maha Sarakham Province.
Also, the Mekong probably shouldn’t be grouped into Nature & Parks anymore since the water is barely flowing at times and most of the wildlife is dead and gone. The most accurate description for the foreseeable future is, “Heavily Exploited Power Source Where Giant Catfish Once Lived.”
I clicked the green See 1 Experience button shown in the lower right corner of the graphic above (the actual page is here). It took me to a page called OVERVIEW MEKONG DELTA (My Tho – Ben Tre)… Both of those places are in Vietnam for fuck’s sake! Not sure if Trip Advisor is aware if these two countries are not same same or if they are aware and it’s all just keyword games (because the word “Thailand” is in the link for a page having nothing to do with Thailand), but either way, it’s fucking despicable… Shitty travel sites should at least be responsible for lightly educating the shitheel tourists and backpackers they foist on the locals, yo.
Tropical Storm Podul (North Korean for “willow”) has been dumping on us since around midnight and I spent the day trying to prevent everything we own from being flooded including vehicles, property, and cats, as well as preparing to sign a lease for our new juku and organizing teaching materials for a seminar at a vocational college in Roi Et city tomorrow (which just got postponed until next week).
The highway we were supposed to take:
The area we were supposed to go:
A new skyscraper being built in the shape of a wot (alt spelling: wode; the circular pan flute of Isan):
The newly-created Roi Et Coast Guard station:
And finally, a common sight in the countryside that always brings a smile to my face:
That’s the road to Max and Mina’s school, a couple minutes from our house on the old Maha Sarakham University campus. Nam also found a big pla salit (gourami) stranded in our driveway, and I pushed his armored side along until he could swim back down into the flooded street. When she told a friend about this when we went shopping later in the day, he asked quite seriously why we hadn’t eaten it!
Note: Most of the photos on this page are borrowed from social media and were forwarded multiple times before I used them here. Please let me know if you’d like attribution.
When Nam is driving, I like snapping photos from the passenger seat. Up here in Isan, this type of photo is defined by capturing the camera in the side mirror and long green fields of rice when it’s the right time of year. Otherwise, it’s just a big, hot, dusty expanse.
My favorite urinal in the whole world because peeing while staring at swollen jackfruit pairs is somehow fascinating.
This is at an all-you-can-eat hot pot/grill buffet that has unfortunately changed owners, upped their prices, and is no longer worth going to. RIP Mum Aloi Ban Din Dam… Your 99 Baht buffet was the best in town!
To each his own?
Seen in the rear parking lot of SermThai Complex.
We visited a nearby reservoir, Kaeng Loeng Chan (they really need to simplify the official English spelling), on the weekend. They were holding a work rally to cover the newly-created Health Park with grass sod and quite a few people showed up to volunteer (or as a Thai would say, to make merit).
We got bored of the manual labor after less than an hour and walked around the banks of the reservoir instead, taking photos and looking at dead crabs. The water seems too murky and oxygen-depleted to support fish close too shore, but they must be out there somewhere. Maybe I’ll take the kids fishing out there sometime.
So this happened lol.
We were looking for a used table. They cost about 3,500 to 4,000 baht for a decent one. Delivery would be around 1,000 baht since there were none for sale around here.
Went shopping at our neighborhood shopping mall yesterday and found this one (Dragonfly 20mm) on sale with a set of paddles for 4,750 baht.
A three day weekend is something special, but especially so when you’re a little kid. Mommy was off at graduation practice for her uni, so the kids and I got in the Crown and cruised around lazy Sunday style, picked up some fries at Mickey D’s, and went to some shaded outdoor courts across from their school for a picnic and some basketball.
These days, Max is trying out all kinds of sports to see what he likes. He was into football only for a couple years, but has gotten into ping pong more recently. He’s expressed interested interest in starting up muay thai again, so we will start on that at Nam’s uni next week if we can. Just the past couple of days he’s been dribbling around a basketball, so today was the day to find out if he could get the ball up to the basket yet:
This was his very first unassisted basket, and there was much celebration. All in all, he got in three baskets today and wore the hell out of his arms. As I remember, this is an important growth marker for kids – playing until you’re worn out, then playing some more on top of that. So I pushed him some more for good measure.
As we were leaving, some high school girls came around to play in their green team uniforms and we watched them start practicing. Max asked if I could dunk, and I said no, but he should ask the girls if they could.
He asked why, and I told him it might be a good pick up line. He asked what a pick up line was, and when I explained, he got pretty annoyed with me and asked why I wanted him to have such an old (!) girlfriend. I told him it would make all the little girls in his class jealous, after which Max got angry and stopped talking to me for a while. But we listened to trap on the way home, and even Gucci agreed with me.
Maha Sarakham’s premier tourist attraction is under water!
The monkey forest park in the nearby town of Kosum Pisai (AKA Monkeytown) is now completely flooded. The river running through it is usually quite wide and only about a meter deep; it’s a great spot to relax under the trees and watch fishermen throwing cast nets as a fresh breeze blows through and monkeys steal food from cars and incessantly mount each other.
Now, it’s under several meters of floodwater because the Ubonrat Dam upriver was opened after the heavy rains.
Pushed out of their home in the forest, the monkeys are now living up the street at the school and the temple, and even cruising the streets around town.
Hopefully, the monkeys can go home again soon so that order is restored in Monkeytown.
This is an interesting video I found on FB, purportedly from this article in the Nation, although I can’t find it there. It’s interesting mainly because the nonlethal weapon sasumata (known as a “man-catcher” in English) was adapted from an an ancient and very deadly samurai weapon of the same name (in Japanese, the English translation of which is “spear-fork”).
Text from the Nation article:
Muang Maha Sarakham police demonstrate how to use sticks to subdue a suspect on Tuesday.
A video of Maha Sarakham police using Y-shaped and hooked sticks to subdue a frantic drunken man, which went viral on Monday, was part of a wider strategy, it was revealed.
It is part of Provincial Police Region 4 training to reduce injuries to suspects and arresting police when attempting to subdue knife-wielding or agitated people, said Muang Maha Sarakham precinct superintendent Colonel Chairoj Nakharaj. He said that once a week since last year, each precinct under Provincial Police Region 4 has had a team of four officers trained in how to use three Y-shaped and one hook-shaped stick to subdue suspects. The hook stick is used to pull a suspect off their feet and the Y-shaped sticks are used to hold them down.
Chairoj said the method is used only when deemed appropriate. The incident in the video, which went viral after its was posted on the precinct’s Facebook page, took place on Saturday after police were alerted to a drunken man wielding an object that looked like a long knife wrapped in a cloth at the Maha Sarakham Bus Station.
He was arrested for creating a public disturbance.
Sasumata demonstration video at Japanese school (YouTube)
Teachers pin down knife-wielding man with two-pronged ‘man catcher’ (JapanToday article)