Old post: My life (June – Dec 2002)
My life (June – Dec 2002)
Winchester and beyond
There have been quite a few things that I have done this summer/spring. I worked with Mott MacDonald, an engineering consultant firm. For my friends from Thailand, it is one of the engineering firms who were involved with the construction of Rama the eight bridge and the underground tunnels system. I worked with them in their transport division at Winchester, a little town in the south of England. Winchester is about an hour away from London. A typical English ancient town Winchester is, and being a town there were very little things for me to do so I throw myself at Buddhism activities and the benefit was unimaginable, you will see as you read on.
I spent most of my first week in Winchester photocopying. I must have done more photocopy during that week than all the time in my before that week add up. Spent most of my days standing in front of the photocopy machine either day-dreaming or questioning the sustainability of the company. The second week and the rest got better, I leant how to design trunk road, roundabout and slip road using MX (3D alignment design program) and AutoCAD.
The time in Winchester was quite enjoyable despite the fact that I was staying in flat with maggots that lived in the bin (my neighbors hated to empty it you see. Hot and humid summer + rotting lettuces + Fly = ….). I made a lot of friends both from work and from the Buddhism activities, so time flied just like that!
So finished my work placement and started the journey of my life time. Why? I was about to travel the distance of one and a half of the Earth’s circumference within the next 4 weeks: London – BKK-Chiang Mai- BKK-London-Houston-Lima-Pucallpa-Lima-Houston-London-BKK-Chiang Mai-BKK-Shantou(China)-BKK-Chiang Mai-BKK-London. Lost count? That’s 19 hops altogether going both west and east.
I was in Peru as a Shell’s environmental fellow, doing a research which aims to establish a baseline of the aquatic wildlife diversity and condition in the Pachitea river basin (that is basically the Amazon basin, near Pucallpa). There were 10 of us in the team (4 support staffs). The project duration was 11 days.
The trip was one of the biggest challenges for me having got mom’s permission to go-ahead, even before it started. I got very ill a day before my flight. This was in Thailand. My temperature was rocketed up to 44-45 C. My mom was no impress about it but did not say anything about canceling the trip. I must admit that it was me who had a flash thought about giving the whole thing up. I didn’t but went for a jab instead; just before the flight and off I went on my 36 hours trips to Lima.
First few days in Peru was rough as rock, my throat that was (Flu brought a friend with him as well!). I didn’t enjoy it at all, couldn’t eat a thing only water and soup. I was constantly on sweets to ease the soreness which didn’t help to heal it. Until the third day when Madelyn (one of the staffs whose character was so big, bigger than herself!). She dared me to go to see a local doctor to get another jab. And dared, I did. The doctor and Madelyn talked in Spanish which naturally I didn’t understand but he would turn and smile at me from time to time. As if he read how nervous I was, and was trying to calm me down. It did the opposite. Anyway, Madelyn gave me a brief translate version of the 20 min. conversation into 2 sentences: “Don’t worry; they will give you a jab. The syringe is clean.” I just nodded. She and the doctor walked out of the room thereafter and in come the nurse who pointed to the bed in the corner of the room tagged with some Spanish phase. “Si, si” I replied, I guess my fate is already decided. So lay on the bed I did, very obedient but confused. I guessed that what I felt then probably quite closed to what a pig or chicken at the Meat Monger must felt like, having thought that I didn’t push my luck: I checked the syringe – “Made in USA”. So I flagged a go-ahead.
After a brief session of backside massage to relax the muscle (which did the opposite), she finally got on within. As she pushed in the needles, I could feel the juice – cocktail of jab shots Bailey color being passed into my body. The content was so strong that I couldn’t get up for about 20-25 minutes after having it. My butt felt so numb and my limb was just energy-less. But it worked!! 2 hours later I could feel that the swollenness of my throat rapidly reduced. I had my first proper meal since landed in Peru there after. It was grilled fish at a restaurant near Yarina Yagosha. Thank you Doc!
After that everything went the other way on the scale, I was trying to catch up on everything that I missed on the first few days: eating, talking, swimming, drinking etc. Brought much surprise to many of my team mates, some probably wished that my sore throat come back so I can shut up and settle down (ha!).
The trip was amazing, although we spent most of the time traveling by taxi, trucks, fast boats and cattle boat though dirt, roads (that make Thailand’s most rough pebble road feel like driving on a carpet), and though countless swamps and rivers. Some of the sceneries were just like what you see in the National Geographic Channel: simply breath-taking. A weird feeling also hit me: I scared that all this beauty will be destroyed soon (well done Earth Watch, I think you did success)
The highlight of the trip? Catching Piranha by hand net, Swim in countless swamps, lakes, and rivers of Amazon, play volleyball with local (girl) team and got whip-ass clean. One of the sights that I will remember for a long time was the circling condors over the forest looking for prey. Don’t know why. I just felt that they seems so powerful and in-control.
Back to Thailand then? Well only for 5 days, I was off to China to accompany my granddad to visit his home town: a little village near Meisho which is a city near Shantao which is a big city in the south of China (?). Another unique experience, never before in my life I was so muted. If I really made some effort, I think I can count how many words I spoke during the trip. This is because everyone I met spoke the dialect, not Mandarin (which I can understand some) so it was my granddad who does most of the talking. The first few day was Ok, since my granddad did make effort to translate some of the key points in the conversation to me but by the end of the second day he either forget that I couldn’t understand it or just ran out of his effort so he stopped translate and was like that for the rest of the trip. I was quite frustrated. I felt the need to communicate as time went on, not just to nod or making eyes contact or smile when the word meaning “Thai grandson?” (Tai-guo-sern) being mentioned by someone in the conversation. But by the forth day I already gave up on asking my granddad to explain to me. I just played dumb and deaf.
Having said that, I must say the less I talked the more active my brain become and the more I get tired. My daydream became more and more real, for example I could just sit in a conversation circle and derived how each one of them know my granddad and they life since then etc. while waiting for them to finish the conversation which only move to the next one. Luckily the trip came to an end before I developed any further symptoms.
Back to Thailand for a week, and I was again on my way on a flight to England to start my last university life. This year my challenge was to be a good Tutor.
Bristol – the last year
I was selected as one of the Manor Hall’s tutors whose job is to look after the welfare of the students in the hall. The job descriptions include dealing with problems faced by students, range from study problem, relationship problem, security, thief, pregnancy, and drug and drunk. The last three made me felt a bit uneasy, I must admit. Although having dealt with many drunken people (inc. myself!) but pregnancy and drug? Not something that I can relate to(fortunately!) Anyway, luckily the job has been quite quiet so far, despite having one or two bad nights when I happened to land my duty on the Hall’s party nights.
This term has been the fastest ever, before I even realised Christmas has passed, and the new year is knocking at the door steps (26 December 2002). I hope all of you have already set your goal and are ready for this up coming year. It would be my last year here in Bristol and being a student. What next? I don’t know .