June 30, 2011

Random Notes From Rawai #2

I am sitting on the side of the road. My eyes are closed and I can hear the gentle strum of a breeze beating against the lethargic fronds above. I come hear everyday to buy a few sodas for the dinner we have been eating with my wife, her parents and the girls. The house/store belongs to an old Thai couple; out here in Rawai, where we are staying, there are no Tattoo shops, Internet Cafes, Massage parlors, or Tour operators.

Our villa, a small house, is in a residential area and this shop operates outside this couple’s house. The man is always shirtless and wearing a sarong. He chastised me in broken English the other day for not buying beer. But back to the story, I am sitting out front getting some respite form the energy sucking commotion that comes from hanging out with two kids under five all day, everyday. It is quiet, the weather is perfect and it feels nice to let my thoughts doggie paddle in mind a few minutes each day. Here is what they said:

Let whitey have their Protestant work ethic. That dog don’t hunt down here in the tropics. Down here there is little need to get things one. There is sunbaked skin, lapping waves, and strong urges to nap and let the day pass with little angst. Yes, I know these are the musing of a man on vacation, but really what do we in “The West” for lack of a better word have stuck up our asses about schedules, efficiency, and hard work. I have been privy live in several expat communities who condescendingly  chastise the “locals” for being on (Insert tropical Clime) time. As if not being led by the stress of industry is some sort of moral flaw. I'll take it any day.

I watch a young family pass by on a scooter, the youngest mouth a gape swallowing the wind by the mouthful. Her shirtless dad all smiles. Behind me an old lady naps on her porch. My muscles are sore from swimming in the ocean and my skin is sun-baked. I don’t wan to turn this into a political treatise on the misguided superiority complex of colonialism and the true nature of humanity, so I will let it go. This was a thought I had while watching the road go by.

Next one:

So much talk about reforming education. Technology, Networks, Computers. Blah, blah, blah. Here’s an idea: send kids out into the world. Forget the Skype chat, take a group of kids and have them live in Phuket for a summer. Let them waste some time on a beach, start a business, learn to surf, make a film. Let them talk to people of other cultures, not research them on wikipedia. Let them learn to scuba dive, monitor a reef, or play with water colors. Weeks without walls are good, but only scratch the surface. True education is about authentic life and experience and the classroom is about neither. I have not thought out what this pedagogy will look like, but I know that travel is the best teacher in the world.

That’s about it. It is now dark and the music is loud and festive. I am calm and energized. Just felt the need to shed some thoughts.

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