Sa-wa-dii! That means “hello” in Thai. One of my roommates is from Thailand, and she has been teaching me some basic Thai words and phrases.To be more proper, I really should say, Sa-wa-dii-ka (to a female) or Sa-wa-dii-krap (to a male). That should be easy to remember. “Ka” is sort of like “cool” because girls are cool and “krap”… well, that describes boys accurately.
I will be traveling to Phuket, Thailand this summer to board the R/V Revelle, a research vessel owned by Scripps Institute of Oceanography. After spending a week or so in Phuket, I will be at sea on this ship for about fifty days, starting in Phuket and ending up either in Sri Lanka (if the civil war calms down) or possibly the Maldives. I am going on this cruise to study the petrology and volcanology of the Ninetyeast Ridge, a 5000 km long chain of underwater seamounts that is a hotspot track analagous to Hawaii. This project constitutes a large part of my Ph.D work and, beautiful beaches aside, I am very excited about this expedition.
I have had a busy week planning this research cruise. I have spent hours on the phone with shipping agents, ordering supplies online, doing detective work in the stock room at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, looking at wire baskets, figuring out how to label the rocks, et cetera. Honestly, I like the work. I find preparing everything for this research cruise sort of like a series of interesting puzzles. How does one ship 10,000 lbs. of rocks from the Maldives? How cheaply can one air freight binocular microscopes to Australia? What sort of lumber yards are there on Thailand? How many saws will we break while at sea? What sort of rubber boots does one wear on a boat? Will my advisor kick me out of graduate school if I order a pair of these in his size? What about a pair of these for myself? And so on.
I am tired, though. Grad school is hard work, and it’s Friday afternoon. To make myself happy now, I am looking at pictures of the beaches in Phuket, which is supposed to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Mmm… Phuket… I’ll be working on the ship, but I should also have some time to hit the beach. Now, let’s just hope there are no tsunamis!