Well, technically I did not meet this family in Chiang Mai but in Mai Sai. Yesterday was a day spend going to Burma to extend my visa. While going through the line up at immigration, a Swiss woman- clutching a bright red passport with the white cross on it -traveling with her husband and son began chatting with me after she found out I lived in the Beaches in Toronto. It turns out that she and her family lived in the Beaches for two years on McLean Ave. and grew very fond of the neighbourhood.
She told me people in Switzerland were also complaining and were not pleasant to live with. She said she and her family enjoyed living in Toronto. Now, they live in Chiang Mai .
On the ride from the bus station to my apartment I met a soft spoken Thai man who spoke English clearly. It turns out he was a former Director fo Vocational schools in Thailand. We chatted about the inability of students to have a attention span of any length because they are constantly engaged with some piece of technology. It turns out that the vocational schools system is well and alive in Thailand unlike North America where they have been largely abandoned in favor of computer type courses.
This is very well described in a book I read recently called ,”Shop Craft as Soul Craft” by Mathew B. Crawford. It is an excellent book written on the enquiry into work. I highly recommend this book. The author talks about how there is such a big premium but on academic education but not on technical education. He describes in the book how a different type of intelligence is needed by a good mechanic for example who uses both his thinking powers and his dexterity skill to solve a problem.
Two days ago I was having a four hour lunch with three other people in a wonderful Macrobiotic restaurant. The conversation turned to how we view men who do the trades. One of the parties present , a Norwegian woman, told a story of how a woman had called a plumber because her toilet was back up .She was all upset because she had invited a guest for dinner that evening.
It turns out that the plumber was actually the dinner guest. When he arrived and did his work she did not acknowledge him, and when he later arrived as a valued dinner guest ,she did not recognize that he was indeed the plumber who had arrived earlier and fixed the plumbing fix in time for this guest. She told this story to illustrate the view on class systems in Norway.