21 August 2007

Field trip to Loei

I went on a 3-day field trip with a few people from work to visit some community radio stations. My organisation makes a radio program, so that’s why we were interested in radio. We went to radio stations around Loei, which is in North Eastern Thailand which took about 3.5 hours to get to. My first impression was that it is very similar to Laos. The lunch is exactly what you would have for lunch in Lao- tom yum soup, grilled fish, papaya salad and sticky rice. I actually had papaya salad for breakfast too! The language is virtually the same. The buildings are similar to Laos- I’ve heard NE Thailand is generally poorer than the rest of Thailand. A friend said his organisation did a survey of young people of what their aspirations were. Wanting to marry a foreigner was the most common response.

I didn’t really know why I was on the field trip, but I thought it was interesting enough. It was frustrating not knowing the language though. One of the radio stations let me go on radio and say hi. How brave of them! In Lao you’re not allowed to broadcast directly to air unless you’re considered a professional. The half-hour radio program the people at work produce need to be reviewed by the government before it is broadcast. This was the same radio station that offered me locally brewed alcohol. Brown liquors are the worst and this was probably one of the worst alcohols I’ve ever tasted.

On the way home we stopped at Tesco supermarket and some other stores because things are cheaper in Thailand and my colleagues would not otherwise have the chance to go to Thailand. Some bought like radio and a mobile phone, but another bought different things like a packet of vacuum packed Asian meatballs. As with all field trips to distant provinces and other countries, kilos of fruit were purchased and someone bought a huge bag of smelly cockles too.

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