Monday, November 05, 2007

Michael M. - Thailand - Fall 2007

Greetings from Thailand.
Along with Emily, I have been studying at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand since August of this year. My time in Thailand has been a whirlwind thus far: Bungee jumping, getting lost in markets, homesickness, trudging through Thai jungle barefoot in the rain, touring temples, trying to keep in touch with those at home, enjoying Thai food, meeting people from around the world, traveling, learning a new language... etc.
I was late in posting this because I just got done doing a little bit of traveling. First we went to Chiang Rai and what is called the Golden Triangle - where Burma, Thailand, and Laos meet. This is also where a lot of the world's opium is grown. So much opium, in fact, that an entire museum is devoted to it - built by the Chinese and very high tech. After that trip we had only a few days before we left for Mae Sot, on the border with Burma. I'm sure that you have all been reading about the atrocities in Burma. This is not new news, sadly. It's been going on for decades and hundreds of thousands of Burmese have fled into Thailand. We went into the largest refugee camp on the Burmese border (one of nine) this past weekend. Over 150,000 Burmese are in Thai refugee camps along the border.
We also toured several NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) and migrant schools, many of which were illegal because of all of the illegal Burmese immigrants within. It is amazing to think that in Thailand, where prostitution and drugs are everywhere, education can also be illegal.
That's depressing. I'll leave you with a funny story. While living here, I am an English teacher at the Buddhist University, located within a temple complex in the center of the city. I teach monks. One day we were sitting around and they were asking me the meanings of random words they had run into in their encounters with English speaking foreigners. Finally they got to the word "flirting." I laughed and tried to explain to them what flirting was, but they just weren't catching on. I told them not to worry
- they're celibate Buddhist monks, they don't need to know about flirting.
They would not, however, take that for an answer. Eventually they caught on and got really excited. "Do YOU know how to flirt?" they asked. "Of course," I said. This lead to them pleading with me to teach them how to flirt. There was no way that I was going to give monks tips on how to pick up girls. It was time for me to go anyway, so I told them that if they ever leave the monkhood, they can call me and I would teach them how to flirt.
Just another day in Thailand.
Feel free to ask me anything. My e-mail is if you have any questions you don't want to post here. Also, I have taken over a thousand pictures while in Thailand - they're all posted on my facebook.
Feel free to befriend me to look at them.
Michael Manocchio


Blogger stwinb said...

Kind of funny how flirting is not a universal concept huh?

8:49 PM  
Blogger stwinb said...

Okay so again Michael, it's Kristen I was just wondering how you dealt with culture shock if you had any at all?

8:52 PM  

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