lightened up

I’m socked in with extra work this week MCing for an international conference to be held at my school, Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University, tomorrow and the day after. This morning we held a rehearsal. To get in the mood, I poured cold water over my head after waking up and watched an episode of Louie before heading in — this is the best prep for public speaking that I’ve found.

A Tribute to Buildings 1&2, Rajabhat Maha Sarakham University

They are knocking down our “Little House on the Prairie” schoolhouses and will soon replace them with new facilities. They were probably the oldest buildings on campus with solid wood construction, and were a lot cooler than the concrete buildings that have come to represent typical SE Asian construction… In recent years, some of the rooms had been upgraded with whiteboards and sound systems, but there was nothing like going into class every morning and asking students to clean the blackboard erasers.

They would knock the erasers on the outside wall below the window sills, which is how students coming in late could hear that class was starting. These classrooms were a pain to teach in on the hottest days, but were still more comfortable than their modern uncooled counterparts in our newest buildings (one of which is the tallest building in Sarakham yet boasts classrooms with no AC, broken desks, and in the ghettoiest rooms, blackboards as well).

Photo by Aj. Manoon; used with his sister's permission <-- SE Asian due diligence

These were mostly used as auxiliary classrooms and our English program will eventually move from our home in an old administration building (Building 4) to the new buildings whenever they are finished. Reversely, the prior occupants of Buildings 1&2 (including Thai Dance, Music, and Thai Language departments) have come to replace the Law department in our building, so instead of meeting aspiring ambulance chasers in our hallways, we are now serenaded by glorious band practice sessions and Thai dancing below the stairwells. We’re so used to it. it’s hardly even surreal anymore..

Insecticide Spraying in Rural Thailand

UPDATE: I’ve added a video to the bottom of this post.

The first time I saw government spraying (fogging, really) in our neighborhood was last year. There was the sound of a lawnmower engine from a block away, and then a man with a backpack sprayer walked by on the street, spraying a dense, white fog over our front yard, which promptly blew through our open windows ala a 1940’s public service announcement/DDT promotion. The cloying stench of RAID remained on the house for a couple hours, and I had to wipe everything down before the kids got back.

Today, we got a twenty minute warning by a pickup truck broadcasting over a PA – “We are spraying for mosquitoes in five minutes. Remove young children from the area!” I started the car, threw the kids in, and Nam drove them to their grandparent’s house in her nightgown. As they pulled out of the driveway, I could hear the backpack sprayer’s engine a few blocks down.

Since we live in what has become a fairly upper-class neighborhood (3 years ago, it was just our house and one other in the middle of fields), many parents are taking heed and evacuating as I write this. And I saw the sprayer go down a side street a few minutes ago, and he had no frolicking entourage ala South Korea. People are smart enough to take this seriously.

The question is, is it necessary? What the local government is most concerned about, of course, is mosquito-borne disease like malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, and any number of nasty strains of encephalitis. In fact, the last time we were in the children’s clinic, there were warnings about outbreaks of malaria and Japanese encephalitis somewhere in Maha Sarakham province (but not within 50 km of us). The short answer is, nobody knows for sure.


The sprayer came and went. It is over this year. I have some video I will post later, but both my camera batteries are dead right now. A small gecko just fell off the eaves onto the stairs to our pavilion. He was writhing around for a couple seconds, but now he just looks out of it. Maybe he ate a tainted mozzie.