Lao kahn celebration

Many severed pig heads, two offers to drink whiskey before 8:30 am, lottery tickets for sale, ear splittingly loud music that makes kids dance, and pounds of incense burned in front of spirit houses. It’s a holiday!

Cheers to Terry Kilburn

Sending our best to Terry. We miss you! Consider this a multimedia postcard. 

Here’s the photo we took with you just before we left Minneapolis:

Last night we stayed in a Bangkok hotel with pretty good wi-fi, so we were able to download from iTunes an episode of Get Smart from the Sixties which features a bit of your ouevré:

Lunch with Ambassador Davies

We enjoyed lunch today in Suphanburi with the Honorable Glyn T. Davies, United States Ambassador to Thailand, his wife Jackie and staff people from the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok. We had a comprehensive discussion about child safety and health, especially how to address the problem of child drowning in Thailand. We also discussed our efforts in local schools to encourage new teaching techniques in English language classrooms.


Rarely do we use the too-bright ceiling flourescents. But it was a dark and stormy night, so we hit the switch … 

…and with a prolonged, made-for-Hollywood sound effect the thing erupted in flame. Wowie. Never seen anything like it. It’s 220 volts, but only a piddling few amps according to our friend Ken the science teacher. We opened it up today and out fell the charred bodies of a few dozen millipedes. Previously damp, electrically conducting millipedes, we’re guessing.

Dam field trip

Right now I’m comfortably installed on the upper level of a huge elaborately-painted karaoke bus.  

   We’re making our way across Thailand’s central plains. Destination: the dam at Lopburi, where our students will learn about the King’s successes as a hydrological engineer.

The bus is filled with identically-uniformed students; a special uniform for field trips, I think, as I’ve not yet seen today’s couture among the bewildering array of outfits worn by our students.   

Now I know why at the end of last term the parents lined up to get envelopes of cash from school officials: the Thai government provides money to buy all the uniforms. (This causes me to ponder the institutional value given to order and, well, uniformity.  Contrapuntally, it’s the same government that invites American Peace Corps volunteers to disrupt the usual way of educating. But I digress.)

The kids are delighted by some Russel Crowe film playing on the silver screen, and I’m delighted by the dubbed Thai coming from the actors’ lips.

The experience, despite being part of a large group of happy people, is  almost a solitary one. My Thai is too primitive for any prolonged discussion (mostly, the highly-amped music wouldn’t allow conversation anyway). My respect is already high for Peace Corps volunteers who serve in lonely assignments — today’s “lonliness in a crowd” feeling renews my respect. Paul and I are lucky to serve together, to rely upon each other for everything from emotional support to cooking to comic relief. Especially comic relief.