Meio University ST2013 – Day 1 [Welcome to E-san & Mukdahan City]
by Pattarapong Choopanya
After landed and greeted with a warm welcome from HFS staff at Ubonratchathani (International?) Airport, Mitsue-san, P’ Cherry, P’ Noi, P’ Thom, and Cherry Ngam – the most gorgeous lady in this Study Tour, took the students to Mukdahan province to meet HSF Chairman, Dr. Jinnpipat Choopanya (Chief Medical Officer of Mukdahan Province) at Mukdahan Provincial Health Office.Despite a formal look of the meeting venue, the meeting (or more like a Meet & Greet) went on in a very casual and good fun manner. After Dr. Jinnpipat’s welcoming speech, the students were asked to introduced themselves in Thai, sounds a bit difficult for them as they do not know Thai language at all. However, they were very well-prepared… Each of them has a name tag and a little note how to say Sawasdee-ka/krub (Hello), Chan-cheu (My name is…)…
After getting know each other’s name, HSF staff then taught the students some simple, but essential, Thai sentences that they need to know… For example, Kob-khun-ka/krub (Thank you), Koh-tode-ka/krub (I’m sorry), Chai (Yes), Mai-chai (No). Cheer
y Ngam and Thom-san also demonstrated how to wear Pah-thoong (female) and Sa-rong (male), traditional E-san skirts… The students seemed to be both excite-to and nervous at the same time kkk…
Lunch was provided by the Chairman, from his more than 10-year experience working with the Japanese, he hand-picked the menu by himself bearing in mind what dishes Japanese people like most… These included Gai-yang (E-san style charcoal-grilled chicken), Pad Thai (Thai style stir-fried flat rice noodle), and the magnificent Gaeng-kheow-waan-gai and Ka-nom-jeen (Thai chicken green curry with Vietnamese noodle). We, the staff, were happy to see our student enjoyed their first Thai/E-san meal (???).
After lunch, we took the students to the famous Indo-China market which is located on Mae-khong river’s bank. From here, we can see Laos PDR which is just across the river…
We then said goodbye to Mr Chairman and left for Khemmarat District which we would be based in for the next few days during this Study Tour. We popped in at the HSF headquarters to pick up some more staff, Meow-chan, Nina-chan, and Koong-chan. They would join us to facilitate all the students during our stay in Khemmarat.
We then visited the beautiful scenery along Mae-khong river bank, it was a shame that we could not take the students on a boat, for safety reasons…
The highlight of the first day seems to be a Took-took ride (the Jap call it tuk-ka tuk-ka). I never realised that took-took was very popular among the students and the Japanese, they seemed to be very excited, see their faces for yourself… ^^
After a roughly 20-min took-took ride around Khemmarat town centre (of course, I had no idea where exactly they went, I did not get on – could not see the point 555+), they were dropped down at the resort where we would have dinner together and stay overnight.
The dinner was good, at least the students told me. The students were divided into groups to sum up their findings and give feedback for this first day followed by the feedback from HSF staff. The students were impressed with a warm welcome from HSF at the airport and from the Chairman at Mukdahan PHO… However, the biggest barrier remained Thai/Japanese languages… English seemed to be the only tool between Meio students and HSF staff… I then gave (hopefully, encouraging) speech to the students not to be afraid of using either Thai or English during their Study Tour.
“Feel free to speak out, you guys are here to learn, and we are here to help! No need to worry or be ashamed” หล่อชิบหาย!!! มิตซูเอะซังบอกว่าได้ไปหลายแต้มกับคำพูดนี้ 555+
In overall, a long tiring day… but everyone was happy!