The pre-trip presentations preps were pretty much the same as usual; lots of lengthy discussions (draining at times) followed by a sprint finish with plentiful friendly banter.
The process of reworking and strengthening our strategies that led from the revision of our criteria seemed lengthy and often exhausting. Differences of opinion tended to elongate discussions to the point where negotiations tested everyone’s patience and it would not be too far-fetched to say that we all have begun to dislike the words ‘criteria’ and ‘strategies’. Although it seemed repetitive at times the process of refining the criteria helped the development of our strategies.
The long meetings and discussions proved to be fruitful processes in strengthening our criteria and forming the strategies for testing in Bangkok. On a bus ride home I thought of an idea for the presentation that I quickly sketched and then torpedoed into and around my house to produce a sample for the group before the discussions about the presentation were over (I had left Amy’s house before I turned into a pumpkin). The proposal proved successful and excited talks using Skype and emails resulted in assigning tasks before the final sprint towards the pre-trip presentation. The format of the presentation changed so that it would now be in the form of an over head projector with a series of sheets conveying our strategies, field methodologies and toolkit.
The UDP presentations were lively and graphically interesting their focus on strategies was well organised and structured. The BUDDs on the other hand, concentrated on the tools for information gathering. It was interesting to see how both courses tended to have different entry points; a combination of both would be great. It will be interesting to see how we work together in Bangkok; we have much to learn from each other! Bangkok here we come!
[6th May 2011]
The moment we stepped out of the plane we were hit by Thailand’s humidity. This was the moment I realised that the one thing that might ruin my enjoyment of the fieldtrip may be the temperature. Suck it in Sadiqa, got to climate-adjust.
Anyway the first day was a pretty interesting introduction to Bangkok; boat ride along a river, interesting long walk to a restaurant and a taxi ride back to the hotel. The boat trip conveyed a sometimes stark sometimes subtle change in building typology. The rather shabby shacks, mid-rise, to the tall glass structures in the centre portrayed the variety of urban classes within the city. For me the most interesting differences were the building styles of the temples, mosques, residential and commercial buildings we passed. I was actually surprised to pass at least two mosques on the way.
Getting on and off the boat was an adventure on its own. The fear and embarrassment of falling into the water was a motivator to find the quickest strategy (ha!) to get in and out. As I watched others step into the boat awkwardly, I thought ‘stuff trying to be elegant!’ and jumped straight in, almost taking an eye out in the process! But I was in, and in one go.
We walked through various markets selling food, clothes and other things snapping photographs very much like the tourists we were. It was amazing the amount of street vendors present on the streets of Bangkok and the nature in which they blend into the natural streetscape. The amount of expressways within the city was incredible, something I had not expected at all.
In the evening after dinner we met as a group to rework our criteria and strategies according to the comments made following the pre-trip presentations. The discussions were long and often confusing for some people. The main source of confusion was as to what we were trying to find out as a group, what was our agenda or overall aim? Some people thought we didn’t need it whilst others thought it was necessary. The first set of questions will be for CODI, NESDB and HEPS whom we will meet tomorrow. We ended up being the last group working as usual, much like the last BUDDs standing in most party situations.
Just another random thought before I end this blog, there was one other thing that I was not expecting to see…the very bright taxi-cabs! I spotted magenta, cyan, green, yellow/green and orange colours. The city kept getting more exciting already!
[9th May 2011]