Dispatches from a Struggling Buddhist Studies Graduate Student

Friday, June 29, 2012

What I've Been up to for the Past Two Weeks

I haven’t really updated this in a while, but here is a short list of things I’ve done over the last few weeks:

1.  I secured one-on-one tutoring.  It’s been very helpful with my speaking and my reading, and my teacher, Aj. Patcharee, has helped both translate and sharpen the focus of the questions I plan to ask monks when I return to Samut Prakan sometime either late July or early August.  My lessons twice a week for two hours each session.  However, the lessons take place in the early mornings on Saturdays and Sundays, so my weekend nights consist of rocking out by going to bed early.   

2.  If I come back from this trip destitute, blame Thai massages.  I’ve had back problems since I was 13 (one of the lovely parting gifts from Texas schools) and the beds here are harder than I am used to, which on some days cause my back to stiffen.  Since my schedule is flexible, I sometimes get a massage in the afternoon, which costs all of $10.  Wikipedia has a good description, but it is basically a mixture deep muscle massage that focuses on the arms, legs, and back that also includes stretches. 

3.  Both my family and my friends said that I will lose a lot of weight while I am here.  I doubt that is true, mostly due to gaiyang, or grilled chicken.  It is delectable, it is oily, it clogs my arteries, and most importantly, I eat it way too much of it. 

4.  The EFEO (École française d'Extrême-Orient) Library is pretty awesome.  It has a small, but for me, useful collection of books in both English and Thai.  Unfortunately, I cannot check them out, but it is still nice to go there when I feel I’ve overstayed my welcome at one of the few coffee shops I frequent. 

5.  It turns out that I did not get all my paperwork in order before I left, so I came here without a Visa, which means I can only stay in Thailand for thirty days.  To remedy that, I am taking a trip to Malaysia for a few days as an “actual” vacation.  Ever since I have come to Chiang Mai, I have worked every day except for one.  So on Thursday, I am flying to Kuala Lumpur and plan to do nothing productive, except for seeing the sights.  So far, that includes going to the Islamic Arts Museum, the Aquarium, and a Hindu temple called Sri Mahamariamman.  When I fly back to Chiang Mai on the following Monday, I will have another 30 days in Thailand, which will last me the rest of my trip.

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