Arrived in Bangkok around 10:30pm last night. Flights were uneventful, although on both flight transfers (Minneaplis and Tokyo/Narita), boarding was occurring when I got to the gate! Thankfully my one huge bag arrived with my flight. Customs did not take very long, and I went ahead and exchanged money at the airport. Met my party at the designated meeting point-- there IS such a thing! Was also met with sultry air outside -- probably 85-88F and 90% humidity outside.
Took some Advil PM to conk out, and woke up around 9am. Took my time unpacking, checking e-mail and waking up. Was met by Joe Bowman of the Mahidol University College of Music (COM) at 11:30am, and got a tour of the COM campus. It's so lovely with lots of thought put into the art and land/waterscaping. Had a delightful lunch at Music Square -- went back there this afternoon for Thai iced coffee. I needed a mid-afternoon pick me up.
Spent most of my afternoon in the Music Library today, making notes and watching students. People take off their shoes before entering the library, and there's a long set of shelves by the library entrance for the shoes. Why do you remove your shoes? Because learning happens in the library, and there's a reverence for it. At least that's how it was explained to me. I didn't check to see where the staplers were -- but I don't see any corkboards, so there are no loose tacks on the floor!
The majority of the students wear uniforms. Black pants or skirts with white blouses. Black ties for some of the young men. There's also a pin many students wear on the right side of their shirt, between the shoulder and chest midpoint.
Even though these students and faculty don't (yet) know who I am, I have been greeted with many wais already, or a purposeful head nod. It's a lovely gesture of respect and status (that I am a faculty member and teacher).
Fun moment: we were joined at lunch by my colleage Lindsey Williams who's here for the summer. My former bibliography student (and well known composer) Narong Prangchoren walked into Music Square, waved at Lindsey and then looked at me, his mouth falling open. The look on his face was priceless.
Had dinner with my colleague Lindsey and his 4 year old son at a lovely place called Anya's. I had beef curry which was just wonderful. I couldn't eat all of it-- probably my body saying "enough with the changes for one night!!!"
The time zone difference between Thailand and Kansas City is 12 hours. Let that sink in for a moment. Think about what you do at 7am and then consider doing that at 7pm instead. Or better yet, what are you usually doing at 11pm? I had to resist that urge at 11am this morning, given I was meeting someone at 11:30am! I was told the best ways to help manage the time zone change was to: eat at your new timezone meal times and stay up as late as you can (within reason) in your new time zone-- if you can go to bed at what would be your usual bedtime (say, 9:30pm) in the new timezone (9:30pm Bangkok time), your body should be on the express route for transition. I'm also leaving my drapes partly open when I go to bed so the sun wakes me (or helps me).
Time will tell on this one -- look for a follow up in the next installment!