Several volunteers were able to have words with Her Royal Highness, Princess Chakri Sirindhorn. Erin was part of a select group who was able to be photographed with her. From all accounts, this woman's greatness could be felt when speaking with her. I did not really believe in that stuff until I read some accounts of friends of Bill Clinton's, but sometimes you just feel it, I guess. Meeting the princess is a huge honor in the eyes of Thai people as they revere their royalty to an almost holy level. The princess who presided over our 50th Anniversary celebration is well know for being very progressive with project ideas that improve Thailand and Thai people's quality of life.
All said, we were in Bangkok for nearly a week. I had my first meeting with the Information Communications Technology GIG (Global Initiative Group). We painted the town most evenings and stayed in a very damp yet beautiful middle eastern decorum hotel. Bangkok is a welcome relief from site because one, they sell international food there, and two there is also everything else. Arguably our best evening was the night we went to the Jazz Saxophone jazz club recommended by one of our language instructors. This is a high class place where the price of the drinks more than makes up for the lack of a cover and the music more than makes up for the price of the drinks. A posse of about 10-15 of us rolled in there dressed to the nines after the final PC event, and bobbed our heads and tapped our feet to the best sounds to pass my ears in quite some time. A brass band played all variety of jazz from latin to Sinatra tunes, the Thai singer able to manipulate his voice and facial expressions perfectly for the song of the minute. This will be an evening to remain in memory for many years as will the taste of those Paulaner Dunkels lubricating the evening and the hardened forging of lifelong friendships with our fellow volunteers. Pictures to follow soon cause damn, we looked good.
Today is the second to last day of RECONNECT. This is a second training session held after 3 months at site. We all have new progress and problems and our Thai counterparts were invited down here for two days to talk about those and other things. The training is two weeks long, and we study Thai for 3.5. hours a day. The rest of the time is spent with various guest speakers who talk to us about various project ideas and the state of Thailand. I had lunch with a couple of Foreign Service member from the US Embassy following one session and learned a lot of about their work and what sorts of opportunities might be there for someone with interests like my own. Tomorrow, I will co-present a session on environmental topics with one of the PCT staff as well as 3 other volunteers. My focus will be waste management and pollution prevention. I am excited to begin projects in these areas at my site, now that I learned a little more about the Thai "landscape" for such things. Tomorrow night, extra-curricular class on Thai cooking.
After Friday, RECONNECT will be over and so will the good breakfasts and other fringe perks of this nice hotel we are calling home. Erin and I will head back to the Khothai and try to get back to work and being the only Americans for miles. When we return, we will have been gone for almost four weeks. This after living in our new home for only two, still not making a full shopping trip yet.
The next time we will see our fellow volunteers in an official capacity will be for mid-service in another eight months. By then, group 123 will be packing their bags for home and the 125s will have been here for 3 months. The world turns.
Special note to my boy P-Dimas who is now finishing the second week of his mid career hiatus and touring the red crescent to the north, con diao (alone). Proud of you brother. And also my boy Deeds whose son just decided to show up to this clown show we call life. Congratulations and give Aldice a head sniff for me.