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Back to Bangkok

Turned out there were a couple of Computer Scientists at the conference in Pattaya. One was teaching at Grace Intl School, another is looking at teaching programming at one of the universities in Chiang Mai. That alone is an answer prayer for help developing engineering skills for Thais.

We bussed back to Bangkok, leaving the coast behind but not the humidity. This time, rather than staying in a hotel or guest house we stayed at Big John's Hostel in Bangkok. Lots of aussies and other westerners, pies, and sausages with mince meat!!!

Pattaya

Monday Jan 30 saw us flying back from Chinag Mai to Bangkok. We managed to find the FEBC office with a little difficulty! Once there we had a chance to understand their network setup. Since we had a couple of hours, we installed the RAM upgrades that we had for 4 computers, which they very much appreciated. When we return on Thursday we will mainly work
on the Win 2000 server that is 4 years or more old. If we were around a bit longer and could ensure support (which is possible) we would install SMEserver to reduce the demands on the server and licensing demands etc. However we can't do that, so we are going to focus on getting backups in place (probably DVD+RW), and get the server patched.

Mountains and country

As Alan mentioned, we have been a little unwell, something common to travellers and workers in different cultures, so we are experiencing something common to many. I also am trying ot get over a cold virus from before Christmas.

We managed to get this 'experience' during a tour on our day off last Thursday. While seeing Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand and part of the Himalayan chain, we visited a Hmong village for lunch and ate something not so good!  We also saw waterfalls, some memorials for the King and Queen, one of which is supposed to contain relics of the Buddha, and a Karen village. Both the Hmong and Karen are Christian, compared to the Buddhist Thai.

Our work this week

During most of our week here in Chiang Mai, we have been provided office space and Internet access by our friends at IMG (Itapon Ministry Group).  Here's David working on a problem (while I stopped to take the photo).

<img src='tiki-view_blog_post_image.php?imgId=18' border='0' alt='image' />

During our time at Itapon we have valued the hospitatility, local knowledge and assistance offered to us.  It has enabled us to be more effective in our work, which in turn has been appreciated not only by us, by all who we have been privileged to

More Thai musings

For anyone who's wondering, yes, we're a bit behind on the blog right now. A combination of many things to do and some minor illness has served to muck up our plans a bit. Thankfully, David and I weren't sick at the same time, so the work was able to continue! As a result, these next few entries may be delayed by a few days from reality - please hang in there while we catch up, as time and Internet access permits.

Chiang Mai is an unusual mix. It is somewhat a tourist town of course so many of the signs you see are bi-lingual - this decreases as you move out of town. Many of the people here speak English too, though for most it seems to be "a little". Of course, you can't always assume that a western-looking foreigner here speaks English either - many are from Europe. I suppose that's why our current hotel's laundry sheets are written in English and French (but not Thai!)

Transport in Thailand

Here's that songtaew picture I promised earlier!

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Songtaews actually function more like a bus than a taxi, though I note that when they're carrying faranags (foreigners, like us) they seem to not do additional pickups.  Honestly, we haven't figured it out beyond these important points:

1. Songtaews and tuk tuks cost about the same to hire
2. Songtaews easy fit two people AND luggage.  Tuk tuks do NOT.  (:biggrin:)
3. Taxis cost about the same as tuk tuks and songtaews, or even less - PROVIDING they have a meter AND it's turned on.  Not all taxis have meters, and not all drivers turn them on until you ask!

Welcome to Chiang Mai

Well, in our rush at the airport yesterday, we neglected to include a photo of some of the PCs we worked on while in Bangkok.

<img src='tiki-view_blog_post_image.php?imgId=13' border='0' alt='image' />

David and I must have been a sight in the airport gate lounge yesterday.  We were both head down in our work.  While David wrote, I prepared the pictures for him to post!

Our flight to Chiang Mai arrived in the late afternoon, around 5 PM.  Some confusion over our accommodation led to our first songtaew ride.  A songtaew is basically a small pick-up truck with an enclosed tray.  It has seats down both sides for passengers, and they are quite common in Chiang Mai.  I'll post a picture later for anyone who hasn't seen one.

Bangkok flashes by ...

We've been in Thailand for 3 days, but this is the first chance we've had to blog. We didn't have broadband access at the Intl Teams office in Bangkok, they may order that this week and we'll fix them up in a couple of weeks. So we are sitting in Bangkok Domestic Terminal waiting for our flight to Chiang Mai.

Our flights went well. Both the flights from Melbourne to Singapore and the Singapore to Bangkok were early. Alan's first overseas experience was Changi Airport in Singapore!!! (:lol:) We managed to get through the melee at Bangkok arrivals with the help of tourist information and found the official metered taxi rank, avoiding massive overcharging.

We then got our first look at Bangkok (it was cloudy, so didn't see much from the plane). It is large and sprawling, somewhat smoggy, but quite ordered compared to many cities. The taxi driver managed to find our accomodation (PP House) and we got to our rooms. Cecille, one of the Intl Teams leaders was there to meet us and help us check in. After a shower in our hand held showers we headed down to the ministry centre where they teach English and computers (or would if they worked....).

They hadn't had a working computer for 5 months!

We discovered 4 computers a Win 98 box on Pentium, A K6-200 which was unusable, and 2 AMD Durons (1G & 1.7Gb), one sort of working with errors and one with a dead power supply. It turned out that that one had a fried motherboard. Both of these were running XP Pro. The working one of these we scanned managed to get working by reverting to the last known good config.

We had to go to Pantip Plaza, an IT mall for parts for the fried motherboard

Since our flight is boarding, I have to go, but here is a photo of our lunch with the Filipino Intl Teams team in Bangkok, and one of the ITeams Australia Summer Team.

Ready, Steady, Prepare

2 days to go. I've spent the day shopping for bits and pieces, buying foriegn currency etc. Make sure we have all the bits we might need - tools, spare parts etc. Last week we spent 3 days training with the International Teams Australia Summer Teams in Sydney. This was the first time that Alan & I meet. The training was good, covering a lot of helpful stuff, and it also was an experience, helping us work through some emotions before we encounter them on the field. As Rick said: "Better to fail in training than on the field".

New Map of Global Evangelical Status

There is a new map, based on the Sourthen Baptist data, of the status of Global Evangelicals available at http://www.worldmap.org/ The site also has a whole heap of maps of countries and their status.

Such maps are helpful for developing and implementing strategies. It helps the church know where to target resources. Computers, of course, make it possible to easily produce such maps.

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