The morning we arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, the military instituted martial law. The day we arrived in Hat Yai, there was a military coup.
Interestingly enough, this is not the first, nor the second or third coup in recent Thai history. Which might explain why our hosts were more concerned with helping us to find good food and our way to the shopping center than they were with explaining the details of Thai politics. I would suggest looking for sources other than Western media outlets for current news on the situation in Thailand. Even our hosts here don’t use the news. They take the pulse of what’s going on through social media.
There is so much that I don’t understand.
But that’s what this summer is for! My official goal of the summer is to learn about public health, surveillance systems, and chikungunya. My unofficial goal, for the time being, is to order food completely in Thai, know what I’m getting, and then negotiate a tuk-tuk to the mall using Thai.
In about 10 days, I’ve managed to feed myself every day, and only end up with 2 meals I really couldn’t eat mostly because they were too spicy.
I’ve stopped sweating profusely and waking up because of the heat and humidity, and can once again drink hot coffee in the mornings.
I’ve managed to learn one greeting in Thai, most of my numbers up to a few hundred, and how to tell someone the food was great. My most frequently used phrase is that the food was great.
And finally, in getting going on research, I’ve gone through the following feelings:
- I have no idea who I’m working with, what I’m doing, and where I’m supposed to sit! What am I going to do for this ENTIRE summer?
- This spatiotemporal cluster analysis tool is fascinating! But what if I only do data analysis ALL summer?
- How am I going to remember all the names and faces of the people I keep meeting?
- This new mosquito collection project is amazing! The data analysis is really cool! I have so many ideas and so many willing partners in learning and discovering! How am I going to get it all done in just ONE summer?
This is going to be a good summer.
Photos courtesy of Marc-Grégor Campredon (www.marc-gregor.com)