As soon as we reached Hat Yai, we were brought by the tour bus to a restaurant for a seafood and tom yam treat. That's the time I got to know more about Dr. Donnie who just graduated this year from UM and been offered a lecturer position not long ago. He is a nice man to talk with and later he really surprised me. (you might need to read till the end to know about it)
Unavoidably, we were being brought to Chang Puak Camp which is a place to see and ride on the elephant. After visited Kenyir Elephant Village (visited in 2015) and Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre (visited in 2010), this place does not interest me at all. The entrance is free. But there are incurred charges for the riding activities and food for feeding the elephants.
To get an up close picture with the elephant, the charge is 100 baht with your own camera. Noticing the spelling mistake on the advertisement board, I immediately inform the ladyboy to correct it.
While listening to the stories by the Thai tour guide in the bus, occasionally I looked to the outside at the streets of Hat Yai. At the centre of Hat Yai town, it is a busy street with lots of tourists. Regardless the town or the countryside of Southern Thailand, their messy wire and cable on short electricity post becomes a unique landmark.
In the late evening, we checked into B.P Sweet Hotel. For the power port, I had no issue with it. My smartphone charger can pluged into it without problem. With the air-conditioner remote attached to the wall, we can easily control the room temperature when we feel cold in sleep.
We had dinner in a restaurant that I don't even know the name. It is located a bit far away from the downtown. Most of the dishes are same with what we have in the noon time.
We still had some time by the time we back to the hotel. Instead of staying in the room, we went out for food. We came to this Thai Chinese Tong Yuen stall to try out their desserts. There are last few bowls left and we were lucky to have before they lasted out!
The next morning we came to Institute for Peace Studies at Prince Songkla University (PSU) for study tour. Institute for Peace Studies is selected during our visit because we don't have such thing in Malaysia and it is interesting to know more in depth about this institution.
I must admit that it is a good intention for the establishment of the institution in Southern Thai to educate the local about peace and handling conflict but for job application in the future, it does not help much. (Just my 2 cents)
Contrary to my university, we as a guest did not get a special treat by PSU which we normally did. In local, we would have catering whenever we had visitors from oversea. Instead of providing this to us, they asked us to go to their cafe for lunch. I might expect more than I should. Nevertheless, it is interesting to visit their places.
The eateries inside PSU is pretty awesome. It has an array of offerings which I need to wander around to find out what I actually want to eat. Moreover the price is affordable ranging from 20 baht to 35 baht.
I ordered shrimp paste fried rice for my lunch that day. Instead of the chicken, I requested for shrimp which is not in the menu as I'm pescatarian.
To me, it is still a bit weird to see the undergraduates in uniform! For postgraduates, they are not compulsory to wear uniform. Such uncommon practice caused me to think they are secondary school kids. For undergraduates, I don't think they have strict guideline for the uniform as some wearing short and tight skirt while others wearing long loose one.
How I hope our cafe in university has such variety of choices!
We still had some spare time after lunch. My instinct led me to PSU Hall of History which is a brand new building. I'm not sure if Hall of History is Faculty of History but there are exhibits of King and royal used items at the ground floor. It works like a small museum.
PSU slogan: Our Soul is for the benefit of Mankind. Quite an impressive slogan! Whatever we do should go back to the society! We need this in Malaysia!
For example, some local researchers patent their anti cancer medication from their works and open a company to sell the products with expensive price. All the while, their research works supported by the research grant which is the tax money of the people. But in the end, the outcome only going to their own pockets and not the society nor patients. Instead of emphasizing the number of patents a university has and research grants, the focus should be the benefit of the mankind after all.
Upon our visit, some students are having class at the theater. Some are looking at the TV screen while others are discussing some thing. I don't know they are having class until the Director of Hall of History came in to give lecture.
The director looked at us in strange way when he saw us wandering around at the area. I had no idea who he was until we came to him and started the conversation. I always like to meet new people. So we greeted him. Nonetheless, nothing went smooth like I thought. He has poor command of English. He can't even say a complete sentence of English. Three of us had difficulty in communication with him. I felt bit disappointed with it because I thought I can finally talk with a local lecturer which was not arranged by the official to know more about the university. (the official who welcome us for sure they have good English command)
He lectured in Thai to his students. None of the words he said I can understood. English still not the medium of education in PSU.
A big mailbox outside the faculty
We were led into another faculty - Faculty of Environmental Management in PSU after lunch. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Parichart Visuthismajarn briefed us about the faculty and her project.
I am very impressed with her research output to community outreach programme especially plantation of pepper jack in relation to agrotourism in Samet district and Cha-uat district. Her works not only bring income to the local community but also the country. Not only that, some of her projects are self funded and not supported by the government. This reminded me of the PSU's slogan again!
--Our Soul is for the benefit of Mankind--
And I never expected we had a special guest that day. He is a PhD student under Assoc. Prof. Dr. Parichart Visuthismajarn. He has another identity. He is also the current director of Songkhla municipal province. Learning is a life long process, we can see such thing from him.
I can't get further information about the pepper jack online. Google only pop out pepper jack cheese instead which is originated from California and not what I been told- a plant in swampy area.
Only half day in PSU was not enough for me to look through the students' life and education here. I thought we had chance to go into their class to have a lecture or take part in their community works but none of these happened. The common saying goes we need to do as what local doing to know them better.
On second day, we visited Hatyai University (HU), a private university. HU is not big as PSU. It was weekday in the morning upon our visit. I hardly seen any students walking at the compound compared with PSU. I asked the officers regarding the course fee in HU but I did not get an answer from them. I guessed the fee is not "friendly" enough to tell perhaps.
From the brief, HU underlines their 3T core competency which is teaching, technology and touch. I don't have any comment on teaching and touch as I didn't attend any of their classes. But for technology, they are comparable with our university.
Just like PSU, HU also promotes local tourism products which in the end improve socioeconomic status of the local. I saw similarity of their research works in both universities.
In HU, Faculty of Education and Liberal Arts and Faculty of Law each occupies one floor only in the same building.
One of the good spot of taking pictures in Hatyai University. Looks great from the exterior!
HU is influenced by Buddha religion. This can be reflected through their year indicated at the board.
"According to the Thai calendar, Buddha passed away 2554 years ago (this article was written in 2011), or about 543 years before Jesus. So if you ever wanted to know what Thai year it was using the Christian calendar, just add 543.“
It is a fun filled trip with fantastic people. I have different insights of education in Southern Thailand. Thank you once again to MOHE and AKEPT for the opportunity given. Not forget our mentor and organizer Dr Wan, Dr Ong, Dr Ghows and Pak Din for giving us memorable experience!