A few days ago it was one year since we started school in Rangsit Thailand. It’s crazy how fast time flies! And I still haven’t sorted through all photos I took during last year, so I couldn’t easily find any pictures from the first few days in Rangsit, but here are some random photos anyway.
Now, with it being three months since I left Thailand and the university in Rangsit it’s time to start studying again. This time in Sweden though, and only as a part time student (while working full time). I just started the Master of Public Health Science Program at a university close to where I live. However, I will be a distance/online student. The entire program is a program without any physical classes or meet ups. Which is fantastic since it’s four years of studying and I don’t know how long I’ll be staying here. But now I can study from anywhere in the world.
It’s a little sooner than first planned, but it’s for the best. Tonight I’m heading to the airport and tomorrow morning my flight leaves Thailand. It’s always a special feeling leaving a place where you have lived for almost a year and most likely won’t return to. I’m not very sentimental, so I’m mostly looking forward to whats coming next.
So what is coming next? Well, after a quick stop to visit my best friend and her family I’m heading up north. During the summer I’m going to work within home care, as a physiotherapist, and live with my sister. Going to be fun. Then I’m going to figure out the future.
As most of you probably know Thailand is in a bit of political turmoil right now. Yesterday afternoon the Thai Military took control of the country and the military chief is now acting prime minister.
The political situation here in Thailand has been screwed up for a long time, and during the majority of the time I’ve spent in the country there has been large protests in Bangkok. Last night was the first night without protesters in Bangkok for over six months, and that was due to the curfew. This isn’t the first coup in Thailand (try the 12th or something since 1932) and from the information on Twitter people seem to be more annoyed because they can’t watch their favorite TV-shows than due to the fact that the military is censoring TV, radio and written media.
The political history of Thailand is very strange, and more than one international media have called them an immature democracy. I’m not even sure I would call them a democracy. The fighting concern which part of the population should have the power; the rich and educated “yellow shirts” or the uneducated, poor farmers in the rural areas of Thailand which are called the “red shirts”. This whole thing is so bisarre. The problem is that since the “red shirts” has won the last few elections, the “yellow shirts” wants the power without having an election. Don’t get me wrong, both sides are corrupt as hell, and choosing between them are like choosing between the pest or cholera, so I’m not taking sides! Why they are being called an immature democracy is because there’s no collaborations or compromises between the two political parties. As a swedish journalist wrote yesterday: the winner takes it all.
One thing that’s really puzzling to me is how so many people (like my university) are openly saying that they shouldn’t have a democracy because the poor are too uneducated to know their own best so the rich, educated elite in Bangkok should just have the power. Some other people just want the king to tell them what to do (not very democratic either)…
Anyway, what’s going to happen now, you might be wondering. So am I. With the military going in and taking the power, it looks like the “yellow shirts” will be the people who benefit from this the most. What will most likely happen is that the military will appoint a government that will sit for a year or two until they can have elections again. And apparently it’s no secret that the military chief is close buddy to several highly educated and rich people sympathizing with the “yellow shirts”, so they’ll get the power in the temporarily appointed government. Then who knows what’s going to happen. Thailand has been though this 11 times before so I’m sorry if I’m not very optimistic…
However, all sides seem to have learned from the last coup and this far this one remains bloodless. Crossing my fingers it’ll continue like that!
Last weekend someone threw a grenade into one of the buildings at my school. It wasn’t a big bomb, but it did do some damage to the building. No one was injured since it happened during the night (which means that it wasn’t meant to injure anyone, it was meant to scare the president of the university). For a while some of us were debating going back home to Sweden early, but it’s been calm since so we decided to stay.
The thing that annoyed us the most was the schools way of informing us of what was going on. It took us more than 16 hours to get the news, and most of us read it in the news before we got the mail from the school. Our teachers were also joking about the situation and we got the feeling that the school didn’t take the situation seriously even though the police and campus security were in agreement on the fact that the grenade was most likely a political message (threat).
Fortunately, we then got to talk to the International Student Services and the people in charge there and got a briefing of what had really happened and their preparedness for how future events would be dealt with. I think that calmed us all. Our Thai teachers joked some more about the culture difference that we wanted so much information that Thai people don’t. That might be a big difference, but what I think they sometimes forget is that we can’t access the same information the Thai student can. Everything is in Thai!
Anyway, now it feels okay, and the last few days have been calm, even in central Bangkok. We did get a message from our Swedish university that said that if we want to change our flights home their insurance would cover the costs, so that’s good to know.
Don’t want anyone to worry about me though. Everything is completely fine now, and I would never jeopardize my health or life, if I truly thought it was a dangerous situation I would have left the country already.
Now I’m going to go back to write an application for a job in North Korea!
This week we’ve had unusually many days in school. We’ve all been presenting our projects, which have taken time! I had my presentation yesterday and I’m quite happy with how it turned out. Feels good to have it done.
By the way, do you see the colorful coffee mug on the table? My best buy here in Thailand! And it looks very pretty now when I use a drawing from my goddaughter as decoration 🙂
I’m actually all done with the school work now. I sent in the last written assignment the day before the presentation. So now it’s only the Graduation Ceremony left!
We don’t look very happy on that last picture, but were just focused on the presentation happening. And cold. I really do hate the ACs here in Thailand!
Mae Sot is a curious place. The town is small, but as everywhere so many people live here. The strange thing is that it’s mostly foreigners. All signs here are on Thai and Burmese (and many times on English as well, thank god). About half of the population living here are from Myanmar. Then there’s so many NGO workers here as well. I have never seen so many NGOs in one town before. Which works well for me since I need to talk to people working with refugees for my field study.
This far I’ve done four interviews. Or it’s more like conversations really, because not many people dare to speak their mind if they believe the “wrong people” could read it. Which is understandable. I’m learning heaps though. And I’m learning more and more about Thai bureaucracy; basically what’s worked best is to just show up and smile.
Now the computer is almost boiling again so I have to put it away. I’m waiting for food and as soon as I start the computer it gets hot. It’s probably 40 degrees here now…
Tonight I’m meeting up with an Australian physio that works at one of the NGOs here, she’s been helping me loads with contacts.