Today, I met with two different teachers of the Thai language to discuss language learning and what it would take to pass the Prathom 6 exam – which, for foreigners, represents basic mastery of the language. And I will admit that my ego is a little bruised. Today, I flunked kindergarten twice because I could not remember my Thai alphabet. Oh, yes, I learned it way back when at the tender age of five or six, but today I could not even come up with half of the letters on demand. I could not remember whether the little heads on the letters were inside or outside or whether the tails had extra swirls or humps. Now, the Thai alphabet does have 44 letters (compared to only 26 in the English alphabet). I could do the little kindergarten chant that matches the letter of the alphabet with a word using that letter (e.g., “a is for apple”), but I could not write the more than half of the letters without looking at the chart. It was sad… pretty humiliating. I did better in conversational Thai – posting a result somewhere between fourth and fifth grade. I knew all my numbers, my colors, the times of the day, the days of the week, etc. I have forgotten the months of the year – or, at least, which one is which – and only learned today that the ending of the word tells you how many days are in the month (Months ending in “kohm” have 31 days and months ending in “yohn” have 30 days.) I only remembered my birth month (May) correctly. But, on the other hand, I did know who I was, where I worked, where I lived, who was in my family, how to shop, how I got to Thailand, and so on. I do need a little help with grammar but, otherwise, conversationally, I am doing well and my pronunciation is excellent. Boy, was my brain tired by the end of the day.
This evening, we had one of the best meals I have had so far. We had a spicy green curry chicken dish, a tasty pork with veggie stir-fry, and mountains of Jasmine rice. We topped it all off with a dessert of fresh fruit – this time, rambutans! Rambutans can be found throughout Southeast Asia and are an excellent choice for travel because their skin protects the fruit and yet it is easy to peel and eat. The skin, with its flexible, plastic-like hair, peels off with a twist and the translucent white fruit is sweet and refreshing. Most foreigners find the Thai name of the rambutan (“ngaw“) to be pretty unpronounceable, but that does not stop them from eating the fruit. With rambutans, like Lays Potato Chips, it is hard to stop at just one.
Then, at 8 PM our time, the space shuttle Endeavor lifted off its launch pad in Cape Canaveral and we watched it live on Fox News here. This is the living room of the home of Jack and Nutda Neale, whom you met in an earlier post. It is sad to watch one of the last shuttle missions, but I doubt that it means the end of space exploration for the United States. I look forward to what the future may hold and hope I live long enough to see more “firsts” in space. After all, God’s great creation does not stop at the boundaries of what you and I can see!
Another photo from today: