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Monday, August 02, 2010


Respectful relations

On the way back from Mahasarakham I dropped into Korat to spend some time with Nid. She knows that I don't mind visiting the occasional temple so had picked out one or two of the, literally, thousands of temples in the district, that she thought I might find interesting. But first we took a look at the floats for the Tian pansa candle procession. You can see the photos of these on my flickr page.

We started at Wat Phayup which includes a 'cave' temple. Wat or วัด is Thai for temple or monastery. At Wat Phayup we found a small open-air tour bus that was doing the rounds of temples and other interesting sites of Korat. It was only 20 baht (less than A$1) a head so we joined and got commentary as well—in Thai.

I would have been happy with this. Nid seems to feel an obligation to this man she calls 'Dad'. I have no such expectation. Still, she wanted to show me even more on Sunday before I checked out of my hotel at midday and headed on to Bangkok.

She met me for breakfast Sunday morning. She'd managed to find a map and we set off to Wat Narai Maharaj. The main temple was locked and Nid went off to find someone to let us in. She returned with monk, a young man about the same age as my son David.

Chut (ฉัดร) was a friendly guy who spoke good English and after he'd shown us the various shrines around his monastery he offered to take us to Mahajula University, a Buddhist university that he had attended. I was concerned about how much time we had but neither he nor Nid seemed to think there was a problem. So we set off in a sorngtheau.

At the university we passed some classrooms and even though it was Sunday morning there were classes in progress. Chut started a conversation with a teacher from one of the classes and next I was invited to take over the lesson. It turned out that it was an English class and the Thai teacher was keen to have a native speaker talk with his students, just as I used to invite any visiting foreigner to speak with my students at Wat Xam in Cambodia.

Eventually it was decided that we should start making tracks back to the wat and then to my hotel. While we were waiting for the sorngtheau Nid and Chut were carrying on a conversation in Thai about what Chut should call me. He wanted to call me 'Dad' (he actually said 'Daddy') as Nid does and I have no problem with this. I really like this young man who was going out of his way to be kind to two people he'd only just met. Then again, this sort of thing is not uncommon in Thailand. On the other hand Nid suggested to him that 'Sir' might be more respectful considering the age difference. He felt that 'Dad' was indeed respectful and suggested a much closer relationship and I agree. The last thing I need is to have someone calling me 'Sir', especially someone I am fond of.

So, to Nid and Chut, thank you for your kindness and respect during my visit to Korat. I look forward to seeing you both again on my next visit.

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