In just twenty-four hours here, there is so much to see and do. My friends were right: I am beginning to skip past all the visual and auditory stimuli that were new just a few months ago. When I left Bangkok to return to Chiangmai, I took the ‘Airport Link’ skytrain to Suvarnabhumi International Airport and did not take any photos of the skytrain at all, even though it was a new experience for me! I will blame it on the luggage I was carrying and the fact that it was rush hour, but the truth is that I just didn’t think about pulling out my camera until I got to the airport. Checking in a the Thai Airways counter, this huge statue of a giant was behind me. I have seen him many times before in various places in Thailand, but not indoors. As you can see from the size of the man standing beside him, he is fairly large. But he is a faithful replica of the one that stands in the grounds of the Grand Palace and protects the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
When I arrived in Chiangmai (in the pouring rain), I had a delightful trip in a taxi to our house. It was the taxi driver’s first day on the job and he almost forgot to turn on the meter! When he remembered, at the airport compound gate, he mentioned that it was his first day and that he almost forgot the meter. I said “Mai pen rai,” a very common phrase in Thai. It means “It doesn’t matter”, but when used here, it is taken to mean “Don’t worry about it.” We laughed together over the double meaning – for it DID matter to him on his first day on the job. I asked him what he used to do for a living. He owned a gift shop, selling Thai cotton. It was bad, he said. I asked him what was bad: the cotton? Or the economy? He laughed. No. No. His cotton was good. It was the economy that was bad. And so the conversation continued all the way to the house.
The next morning, I visited another school belonging to our partner church. It is a school that sits directly across the street from McKean Rehabilitation Center. I spent the morning with the principal and we were joined later by some of the faculty. The school has 600 students in grades 1-9. The principal graduated from this school and went on to finish high school elsewhere. Then, she went to university and, when she graduated, she returned to teach at this school and has been here for more than thirty years. Her love for the school is reflected in everything she says and does. The faculty teaches English to students at all levels. Students are in English classes three times a week. They desperately need a native English speaker to help the students learn correct pronunciation and to encourage English conversation. Having a native English speaker would also help the school to attract non-Christian students from the community. It would give them an edge over the government schools. Having non-Christian students would help them to provide a Christian witness to those students while they are in school and, through them, to the community at large. It is amazing what one volunteer English teacher could do!
When I got back to the house, I realized that I had not paid my rent, so I walked down to the landlord’s office and paid it. Coming out of the office, I noticed this large pot with water lilies and took a photo of it. I would love to have a pot (or several pots) with water lilies at our house, but the standing water does serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so I just enjoy other people’s pots of lilies. What you might not be able to see – unless you look very closely – is that on the lily pad to the right of the largest flower, there are several tiny tadpoles swimming in the water that is on the lily pad.
Here is a close-up of the tadpoles. There are only three in the close-up, but there were five on the lily pad. Two are hiding under the cover of the next lily pad! I enjoyed watching their antics for a few minutes before continuing on my journey home. I am sure there is a theological sermon illustration somewhere in this. I just can’t think of it now! (Double click on the photo to see a larger version of the photo).