Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Feeling nostalgic

In Bangkok, I have been to markets several times on different days. (Markets there are called floating markets because they are in different places on different days.) Not having a car, I had to try to tag along with other people that are going, which was not all bad because my grasp of Thai was nil. The folk that have been there for a while usually can tell prices at least so I know how much I owe the sellers in the market. Some of my friends there like to go to an open market on Friday afternoon at 4 pm. I have been to that a couple times. That market is pretty crowded and not very much room between rows of tables.

Several of the buildings there are round, including the Faculty of Science building where I studied. My lab was sort of pie shaped. The white board and teacher’s desk are in the narrow part and the cabinets and windows at the wide part. It makes an interesting set of drawers that pull out just fine if you only open one. When you open two, they collide with each other.

The campus is situated in a sort of a bowl. The front gate is up on one edge of the bowl and the back gate on the other edge. Right there at the front gate is International High School, which I understand, goes up to 12 grades. From the front gate you go down a hill to some ponds and a roundabout. In the middle of the roundabout is a sculpture with three tall pieces, representing the 3 schools that joined several years ago to form AIU. 

From the roundabout you can go up to the left to the dorms or ahead to the administrative and academic buildings. The road right by my dorm goes out to the back gate. A hundred or two meters out the back gate is health promotions center, run by mission hospital. I have not been in the buildings there yet but I have walked around their grounds a bit. Someone has gone to the forest and brought back a lot of orchid plants. They have them in pots (or pieces of screen) hanging on trees along the driveway.

The sidewalks are made of 16-inch square pieces of concrete laid side by side with mortar in between and are 5 squares wide. Every so often in the sidewalk is a rectangular cement manhole cover, which is not flush with the rest of the sidewalk; sometimes they are elevated and sometimes depressed. I have almost tipped over once already. Once or twice a week several people sweep the sidewalk across from my dorm. They have native brooms, which are made of soft brown stalks connected to a short handle. There is a large blue trashcan on wheels and a dustpan with a handle for picking up the leaves and putting in the trashcan.

Keeping the campus beautiful is a very laborious process. Instead of lawn mowers the lawn is cut with “weed whackers.” The individual wears a hat, a facemask, a protective covering over the front of his body and tall rubber boots. He must be sweltering under all the protective gear. A lady comes behind and rakes up the grass and carries it away. There are lots of hedges that are trimmed with hand-powered trimmers. I don’t know how often they have to do it, but probably as soon as it is finished they have to start again at the beginning. The hedges are made of bougainvillea. Because they keep them trimmed they don’t get a chance to bloom much but they do make a good hedge.

It was rainy season there so most days are cloudy or partly cloudy. It can change fast. We went for a walk one morning under a clear blue sky. By the time we got back it had clouded over. Inside the house are small geckos, which we assume are feeding on any insects that enter the house. They must not like spiders, because there is at least one jumping spider that lives around my dorm kitchen window. 

The students and faculties are interesting to become acquainted with, and they come from all over the world. A friend of mine who is from Alberta, Canada said that his friends were envious of his coming to Bangkok. They had a long, cold winter last year.