Posts Tagged With: George Mason University

lectures at chulalongkorn university & a farewell night cruise

Friday, January 18:  Today, we attend lectures by the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

Ryan with students at Chulalongkorn University

Ryan with students at Chulalongkorn University

Me with Johanna and students at Chulalongkorn University

Me with Johanna and students at Chulalongkorn University

According to the university’s website, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand’s first institution of higher learning, officially came into being in March, 1917. The groundwork and preparation for it, however, took place more than a century ago. The worldwide economic, social and political changes in the late nineteenth century contributed to Siam’s decision to adapt herself in order to avoid being colonized by the Western powers (“Siam” became “Thailand” in the year 1939). Thus King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) had a royal policy to strengthen and improve government so that the country could successfully resist the tide of colonialism. One of the major parts of the policy, which would later prove to be deep-rooted and highly effective, was to improve the Siamese educational system so as to produce capable personnel to work in both the public and private sectors. As a result, a school was founded in 1871 at the Royal Pages Barrack within the Grand Palace compound.

Johanna and me

Johanna and me

Some of us at our lectures

Some of us at our lectures

When it was first founded, the university had 380 students taking classes in four faculties which were in 2 campuses. From 1934 to 1958, the university emphasized improvement of undergraduate education; thus more faculties were established. In 1961 the university set up the Graduate School to be responsible for graduate level education. From 1962 on, the university started to focus on graduate education and began to set up research centers and institutes. (Chulalongkorn University: Chula History)

me with a student from Chulalongkorn University

me with a student from Chulalongkorn University

Ryan at Chulalongkorn University

Ryan at Chulalongkorn University

In the evening, after our day of lectures, we go on the Grand Chaophraya Cruise, where we have our final group dinner.  We enjoy a great buffet, traditional music and dancing as we conclude our study abroad trip in Singapore and Thailand.

Grand Chaophraya Cruise

Grand Chaophraya Cruise

Grand Chaophraya Cruise

Grand Chaophraya Cruise

Ryan and me on the cruise

Ryan and me on the cruise

??, Johanna and Jennifer

??, Johanna and Jennifer

Dinner on the cruise

Dinner on the cruise

Johanna having a good time :-)

Johanna having a good time 🙂

Professor Rajan

Professor Rajan

We pass by Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, all lit up along the Chao Phraya River.

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn

Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn

Sarah and Jitesh

Sarah and Jitesh

Michal and Jennifer

Michal and Jennifer

a group shot

a group shot

Johanna and Joshua dancing

Johanna and Joshua dancing

me, Joshua, Luz and ??

me, Joshua, Luz and ??

Luz and Ryan

Luz and Ryan

Thai singers

Thai singers

Thai musicians

Thai musicians

Tomorrow everyone else will depart for home, but I booked my ticket to give me two more days to explore Bangkok on my own.  I look forward to venturing out alone and escaping the group dynamics.

Categories: Asia, Bangkok, Chulalongkorn University, Grand Chaophraya Cruise, Thailand | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

from singapore to phuket, thailand

Friday, January 11:  This morning, we leave Singapore and fly to Phuket, Thailand, where we have the weekend to relax before our new round of lectures begins Monday morning in Bangkok.

the view of Singapore from my hotel room window

the view of Singapore from my hotel room window

me and Ryan, waiting to leave Singapore

me and Ryan, waiting to leave Singapore

Johanna, all dressed up and ready for Thailand

Johanna, all dressed up and ready for Thailand

We fly to the airport in Phuket and drive to our hotel,  the Club Andaman Beach Resort, in town.

flying into Phuket

flying into Phuket

getting closer to Phuket

getting closer to Phuket

Arrival at the airport in Phuket, Thailand

Arrival at the airport in Phuket, Thailand

Road signs in Phuket

Road signs in Phuket

view of Phuket from the bus window

view of Phuket from the bus window

Phuket is a bustling town on Patong Bay in the south of Thailand.  I see no visible signs of the tsunami that devastated the town in December 2004.  It seems to be business as usual, although I must admit I don’t know what it was like before the tsunami. Christmas lights and New Year’s decorations are still up throughout the town, reminding us of what we’ve left behind in the U.S.

At Club Andaman Beach Resort, we are greeted by a charming Thai woman in a green dress, serving lime green drinks of guava juice.  The club is lovely, with an open air lobby and teak walls.  Another Thai woman sits cross-legged on a platform playing a tranquil melody on a musical instrument of some kind.  The grounds of the Club are impossibly green and beautifully manicured.

The resort includes Thai style cottages and a high-rise, white, concrete building. The Thai style village cottages are more basic than the rooms, overlooking 15 acres of landscaped tropical gardens and pools as well as a nice pond.  Our room is in one of the Thai-style cottages.

The resort is located near the famous Patong Beach, but not on the beachfront.  Patong Beach offers nightlife, as well as a range of restaurants and shops (ebookers.com: Club Andaman Beach Resort).

Drinks, anyone?

Drinks, anyone?

We go soon after to settle into our rooms (agoda: Club Andaman Beach Resort).

A room I share with Johanna

A room I share with Johanna

our rooms at the hotel

our rooms at the hotel

the other high rise rooms in the hotel, surrounding the cottages

the other high rise rooms in the hotel, surrounding the cottages

the grounds of the hotel in Phuket

the grounds of the hotel in Phuket

Thai music performance in the hotel

Thai music performance in the hotel

We head out to explore the streets of Phuket.  Motorbikes are everywhere in Phuket: a very cheap mode of transportation for the poorer population.

the streets of Phuket

the streets of Phuket

A number of us walk down the main street from the Club and pick out a sidewalk restaurant that has photos of the food posted on a billboard.  I order tiger prawns and asparagus; I’m able to pick out the number and sizes of the fresh prawns for them to cook.  The food is delicious.  I order a Tiger beer; it is much less expensive than the 15 Singapore dollars I paid at the Meze Bar in that city.

dinner at a fresh fish restaurant along the street in Phuket: Johanna, Luz, ??, Juliana and ??

dinner at a fresh fish restaurant along the street in Phuket: Johanna, Luz, ??, Jennifer, Juliana and ??

me with my tasty dish of fresh fish

me with my tasty dish of tiger prawns and asparagus

We find a six-person taxi cab, open air with two bench seats facing each other.  It’s like a motorized stagecoach.  We take it down to the open air markets, where there are Buddha faces and figures, teak elephants and vases, purses made of Thai silk with gold threads in elephant patterns.  Sarongs, cheap bags, shoes, and camouflage shorts are all the rage.  At each shop, a girl or young man calls out softly, “Madam.  Madam!  You want look?”

Luz, ??, and Johanna in a tuk-tuk in Phuket

Luz, ??, and Johanna in a tuk-tuk in Phuket

a little bar at a night market in Phuket

a little bar at a night market in Phuket

Categories: Asia, Club Andaman Beach Resort, Patong Beach, Phuket, Singapore, Thailand | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

singapore: lectures at ISEAS, dolphin lagoon at underwater world & bicultural (mis)communication

Thursday, January 10:  This morning we have lectures with officials at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).  According to the ISEAS website:  The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies is dedicated to the study of social, political and economic trends in the region.

Attending lectures at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

Attending lectures at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

The aim of the Institute is to nurture a scholarly community interested in the region and to engage in research within the fields of sociology, anthropology, political science, history and economics.

Luz and Johanna at ISEAS

Luz and Johanna at ISEAS

The intention is not only to stimulate research and debate within scholarly circles, but also to enhance public awareness and facilitate the search for viable solutions to the varied challenges confronting the region. ISEAS seeks to offer reflective analysis and critical investigations in the best traditions of scholarship.

Luz, me and Johanna at ISEAS

Luz, me and Johanna at ISEAS

After our lectures, we take the Singapore Cable Car from Mount Faber to Sentosa Island, which calls itself “Asia’s Favorite Playground.”  It has such attractions as Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, beaches, nature walks, spas and resorts, and Siloso Point.

At Mt. Faber Park, before getting on the Singapore Cable Car

At Mt. Faber Park, before getting on the Singapore Cable Car

Me at Mt. Faber Park

Me at Mt. Faber Park

Singapore Cable Car to Sentosa Island

Singapore Cable Car to Sentosa Island

On the Singapore Cable Car

On the Singapore Cable Car

View of Sentosa from the Singapore Cable Car

View of Sentosa from the Singapore Cable Car

Ryan in the Cable Car

Ryan in the Cable Car

At Siloso Point, we visit Underwater World and its Dolphin Lagoon.  We watch a dolphin show at the Dolphin Lagoon.

the Dolphin Show

the Dolphin Show

Spectators at Dolphin Lagoon

Spectators at Dolphin Lagoon

Dolphin Lagoon

Dolphin Lagoon

Dolphins at Dolphin Lagoon

Dolphins at Dolphin Lagoon

After the show we explore the rest of Underwater World, walking among leafy sea dragons and Medusa jellyfish.  Stingrays and 10 foot-long sharks swim around us as the travellator takes us through the Ocean Colony’s submerged glass tubes.

Fish at Underwater World

Fish at Underwater World

Crab at Underwater World

Crab at Underwater World

Me & a friend at Underwater World

Me & a friend at Underwater World

Luz, ??, and Johanna at Underwater World

Luz, ??, and Johanna at Underwater World

Sharks swim around us at Underwater World

Sharks swim around us at Underwater World

In the evening, we have a dinner meeting with the group.

Tendai and Professor Rajan

Tendai and Professor Rajan

Ryan, Johanna, ??, ?? and me at our last night's dinner

Ryan, Johanna, ??, ?? and me at our last night’s dinner

??, me, Joe, Johanna, and Tendai at our final dinner in Singapore

??, me, Joe, Johanna, and Tendai at our final dinner in Singapore

Bicultural (Mis)communication

After our group meeting, and following a day of text-messaging back and forth with Madan, I meet him for a “date.”  He meets me at the Great World Market Shopping Center.  We get in his royal blue Toyota van/car.  Royal blue seems to be quite the color for vehicles, especially taxis, in the city.  He drives me up to Mt. Faber to see the view, but I say, “We were just here today!” So he drives me to the waterfront, where we take a walk.

We have a long conversation.  He is Tamil.  His father owns a spice factory and helped him open two restaurants.  He is working on a business degree online through a London school. He’s not married and doesn’t have a girlfriend.  I tell him about my life (two marriages, three kids, why I left).  He says his older brother got married in an arranged marriage.  His older sister did too, to her mother’s brother (her uncle)!  Madan is emphatic that he does not want an arranged marriage.  He doesn’t want to be married at all because he doesn’t want someone to control him.  At that moment, he says, a wife would be calling him and asking him where he is.

We talk about how you can’t help who you like, how you can like someone without even knowing them.  He says sometimes he goes to church and sees a girl he’s attracted to.  It adds excitement to his life because he looks forward to seeing her in church every Sunday.

He keeps referring to American movies.  He asks me if I fear for my life because Americans carry guns and in the news, Americans are always killing each other.  He talks about Columbine and how students in American schools bring guns to school and shoot each other.  He thinks it odd Americans should be allowed to have guns.  I explain to him that we are a country of immigrants who came to America to escape oppressive governments and persecution.  Americans distrust government by nature and want to limit the power it has.  We believe in the right to bear arms – it’s a right conferred to us in our Constitution – in case we need to defend ourselves against a government gone awry.

Madan loves American movies, especially violent ones like The Terminator.  He loves Arnold Schwarzenegger.  He asks how Arnold is doing.  I say I think he’s doing fine, but that I don’t keep up much with California politics.  He discusses other American movies he loves.  Most are adventure/thriller/action movies.

He says that this is the first time he has ever interacted with an American.  Sometimes when he watches American movies, he has trouble understanding the actors, so he is happy that we are able to converse easily and he has no trouble understanding me.

He discusses the Asians in Singapore and says they are always seeking to marry a lighter skinned Asian than they are themselves.  It’s considered a move up the social ladder.  I ask him if he feels that way.  He says he thinks he will want to marry someone lighter skinned than he is, so his children will be lighter skinned.

I’m curious about why he had focused on me rather than Juliana in the restaurant the first day we met, since she is close to him in age and I am so much older.  I ask him if that was why he hardly spoke to Juliana, because she is dark-skinned.  He says, no, he has plenty of black and dark-skinned friends; this desire to be with a light-skinned person would only apply to marriage because of the children.

I continue to press him regarding his apparent interest in me.  He says that I sat directly across from him and I was talking and engaged with him.  Juliana had been largely silent.  I ask him why he had given us his card and taken our emails.  He says because someday he wants to come to America and have someone to visit!  It suddenly hits me, in an awkward moment of realization, that all he really wanted was to interact with an American.  And I, with my white/blonde hair, represent the quintessential American!  I tell him that he’d be surprised to know that Juliana is the truest of true Americans as she is Native American.  He thought she was East Indian!

It turns out he thought it quite odd that I had called him the evening after we met to apologize for not coming back to eat lunch at his restaurant.  I tell him Juliana was convinced that he was interested in me and persuaded me to call.  I admit I apologized because I couldn’t think of anything else to say!  He is very sweet; the realization hits us both at the same time that there has been a huge misunderstanding!  A quite funny cultural (mis)communication.

 
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Categories: Angkor Wat, Arlington, Asia, Dolphin Lagoon, George Mason University, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, International Commerce & Policy, ISEAS, School of Public Policy, Sentosa Island, Siloso Point, Singapore, Singapore Cable Car, Underwater World, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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