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  • Day254

    Chainat? Why not?

    February 10, 2020 in Thailand ⋅ 🌙 30 °C

    Although I’m on a perpetual vacation called “Retirement,” I decided that before leaving Thailand this year, I really needed a vacation from Chiang Mai and my 6-month-long study regimen there. So I looked carefully at the central region of Thailand where the standard Thai dialect is spoken, and found a small city that is really not famous for anything. Why? Because I didn’t want to run into tourists and other foreigners—to be in the “real” THAILAND—and just speak Thai.

    I flew to the huge domestic airport in Bangkok, Dom Mueang, took a bus to the northern bus terminal, Mochit, and from there rode for four hours to Chainat, capital of the province of Chainat. It is an ancient place, having more success in beating off the Burmese invaders in the Ayutthaya Period than Ayutthaya itself (13th and 14th centuries) , but now is unfortunately very low in the United Nations Human Development Program for Thailand: 75th out of 77 provinces—yikes! However, for me it ranks very highly because of sparse population, MUCH cleaner air, very friendly and hospitable people, and much bird life.

    I went on my first day to see the town’s big feature, the “Bird Park,” which has a water park , an aquarium, an “Egg Museum,” and a giant aviary, among other features. With my binoculars, I entered the aviary—the only person there. What a strange place! There were dozens of herons perched on the outside netting, looking to get in, while the “residents” of the aviary seemed quite contented to be there, although there were gaping holes in some places where they could leave if they wished. No matter, the entire area attracts bird life, so there were nests in the nearby trees, as well as in the enclosure. I spotted some small “hiiwa,” the giant water lizards (Asian water monitor) of the area, as well as ancient and very large iguanas—definitely brought in from the Americas. At any rate, I have been bereft of wildlife for seven months, so it was an utterly absorbing and fascinating few hours.

    The following day, I went walking—first in the morning around and down to the Chao Phraya River, and then into town—a total of eleven miles—24 kilometers. I walked, I chatted, I looked, I stopped to study Thai—just a normal day of wandering. Except that the temperature heated up to 100 F, 38 C, so as I walked I “showered myself” as is normal in Thailand. (Did you get the “shower myself?” It means with sweat. But oh, that wonderful REAL shower at the end of the day—such a relief!!)

    My last full day was more of the same, but with more studying Thai and striking up conversations with the residents. I am not as enthusiastic about the “cold conversations” as I used to be, as I’m sensitive to the fact that if people are working, I will be bothering them. Yet it is with the unexpected conversations that the real improvisation of speaking, using my vocabulary, listening to peoples’ stories, and getting used to the spoken language occurs. Regrettably, I feel I have gone backward with my speaking, while forward with my reading and writing.

    So, at a café, as I studied my new Thai speaking exercise about anonymous benevolence, I noticed some young college students next to me, so I started a conversation with one of them. She was eighteen, very pretty, very articulate, and encouragingly friendly. When I showed her my current exercise, she said, “If you stop reading that, and only speak with people like me, you will really know Thai.” I fell into an instant depression at hearing that: how could it be that 68-year-old me could speak with 18-year-olds like her? Or with anyone? I’m just a retired person, and everyone is busy. What’s the use? May as well give it all up. Besides, it’s hellishly HOT!

    I continued feeling low, as I walked around the town at high noon, finally finding a secluded place behind a hotel, sitting down in breezy shade to have a nap before my next bout of studying. Before walking home, I went to a large outdoor market, and chatted with vendors, taking pictures. At one stall, a woman started asking me lots of questions—rather like an interrogation: where are you from, why do you speak Thai, how long have you been studying, why did you come here to Chainat, what do you like about it, where are you going next, etc. People gathered around to hear my answers, until I felt like a country preacher. When she finally stopped with the questions, everyone smiled, laughed, and praised me, and I moved on, feeling much better about it all. Another chapter in my Experiment in International Living.

    I hope you enjoy the pictures, and please don’t forget to leave your first name if you write a comment.
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    Fascinating, Dorée! How much longer will you be in Thailand? And what will you do after you leave? —Lorraine


    More great pictures, Dorée. Hope you have fully bounced back after yyyou


    Sorry, mistake - after your depression! Rosemary

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