back from thailand

I have to say, I was happy to get back to Vientiane last night.  Even though ethnically and culturally Isan (North Eastern Thailand) is very similar to Laos, I really felt like I was coming “home” when I crossed the Friendship Bridge last night.

Here is a map showing the geography of the places I am talking about:

I had such a wonderful time in Thailand!  The meeting was very interesting and I was able to network and “liaise” with a lot of librarians from South East Asia.

I’ve uploaded some pictures from the conference here.

It was quite a wonderful and amazing experience.

Staying with Dr. Surithong was great!  She and her husband are so nice!  Now I have a Thai family too!  I’m sending her the link to this blog so I have to say great things about her – but I mean it!  I hope have the chance to come back and visit again soon.  Maha Sarakham is a really nice town.  I visited the Sirindhorn Isan Infommation Centre, part of the library that Dr. Surthong is the director of, and learned a lot about Northeastern Thailand.  I also visited the Medicinal Mushroom Museum of Maha Sarakham University, and learned about the 2,000 differnt varieties of mushrooms found in NE Thailand.

phouvieng, surithong, and me!
phouvieng, surithong, and me!

On Saturday I went with Salvacion Arlante, the head of the Philippine University Libraries, to visit the “Isan Jurassic Park”, a really awesome dinosaur museum in NE Thailand, near Kalasin.  It blew my mind how great this museum was.  It was located on the site of a hill where archeologists had found the complete skeletons of 3 large dinosaurs from the cenozoic era or something.

The director of the Philipine University Libraries also suggested I submit a paper for the CONSAL conference in March in Hanoi:

Call for papers

From 20-23 April 2009, the National Library of Vietnam in cooperation with the Library Department and Vietnamese Library Association will be hosting the XIV Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL XIV) at the Melia Hanoi Hotel, Hanoi, Vietnam. The theme of the conference is

TOWARDS DYNAMIC LIBRARIES AND

INFORMATION SERVICES IN SOUTHEAST ASIAN COUNTRIES

Which I plan to do, and then hopefully can get invited to Vietnam in March!

I also met the president of the Thai Library Association, who suggested possibly arranging a workshop for the members of the association in Information Literacy in Bangkok, with myself as the invited resource person.

So, I met a lot of wonderful people, saw a lot of amazing things, ate a lot of delicious food, and learned a lot of interesting things.  Which I think overall makes a trip very nice, huh?

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conference in thailand

Well, I am writing this from Maha Sarakham’s Academic Resource Centre’s Director’s Daughter’s bedroom.  Does that make sense?  Don’t worry, the daughter isn’t here, she’s in Chicago, of all places.  But her parents have WIRELESS INTERNET AT HOME.  This is really exciting for me.

I was invited to attend the following conference with the director of the Central Library:

“Local Information Network: Local Wisdom as Power to Social and Economic Development”

You can read my paper there if you click on this year’s meeting link.

I originally expected to be attending this meeting simply as an observer.  On Monday, I received an e-mail from the Thai Director asking me if I would like to submit a short paper about “Cultural Heritage Materials” from my home country.  I quickly wrote something up about the Notman Photographic Archive that I worked with at the McCord Museum in Montreal, and sent it by e-mail.

I guess they really liked it.  On Monday evening, I recieved a response inviting me to be one of the presenters at the conference, which would include an honorarium.  So, I had about 1 day to turn my 3 page paper into an hour-long presentation.  The title turned into something like:

“Digitization as a Preservation Strategy for Local Information Resources and Heritage Materials: A Case study of the Notman Photographic Archive at the McCord Museum in Montreal, Canada”.

The director of UCL and I took the bus from Talat Sao (near my house in Vientiane) to Kohn Kaen today at 2 pm.

Right as the bus left, sitting next to Mr. Chansy, he said to me “You know, I often get sick in the car”.

And I said “How do you feel?”

And he said “Not so good.”

And I said “What did you have for lunch?”

And he said “Fish.”

And I said “Fermented fish paste and insects?”

And he said “No, Fish Laap.”

And I suddenly imagined myself covered in the director’s fish laap vomit.  And then I told him to look straight ahead and turn the air vent full blast on him.

Anyway, there were no fish-laap vomit incidents, I fell asleep, and woke myself up snoring when we arrived tin Kohn Kaen around 6pm.  Some guy picked us up at the bus station and drove us another hour to Maha Sarakham, where we met the Thai director and her husband for dinner.  Dinner was delicious, Dr. Surithong and her husband are lovely!

Then we dropped Mr. Chansy off at the hotel, and came back to her house to sleep.  Now I am comfortably using the internet in my pyjamas.