Monday, April 20, 2009


Well when we last heard from me, I was promising a huge post about Songkran. Believe me that would've arrived, but that night my computer crashed. I think I might've lost all my music and pictures which would really stink. Ryan has hope that perhaps it's just the operating system that's messed up and the files inside might be salvagable if I could boot up and get to them. Anyone with computer knowledge have any insight?

I want to write about the big Songkran but I don't want to rush it and I'm on a friend's computer right now so I don't wanna be on it forever. (Also her compuer doesnt' have a spell check liek mine so this post migh have some mispellings) Let's compromise, I'll write a little about before Songkran so later I can cut straight to the chase.

Days before the big departure we started accumulating guests who would make the trip with us. All in all there were 18 of us who made the trip. 18! So we really took over the apartment building. The day of our trip we had a big pool party which was very cool. It was a throwback to pool parties of old including the pizza delivery(!) Then we went to the Hua Lamphong to catch our bus. We were a litle late in booking our trip so we were stuck with the bus which is less desirable than the sleeper train.. but it all worked out. The Red Shirt protesters had blocked all trains from coming and going into Hua Lamphong but the buses were fine. Because of all the delays, the station was a total zoo. Songkran is equatable to Thanksgiving in terms of Thai traveling so the backup of passengers was extra bad. Our bus left on time but it wasn't really from the station. Instead some guy ushered us out a back door and down some dark streets where we had to wait for a little van to take us the rest of the another, wider, alley where we eventually got on the bus. It's good to be laid back, especially in Thailand. We arrived in Chiang Mai around 6:00 the next morning where our adventure started...

to be continued!

again sorry for the major fake-out about posting. I don't feel sick anymore and actually feel better than I have in a while. :)

one lvoe,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy New Year! Again!

Well Songkran certainly lived up to the hype. I had been thinking about it for months and it didn't disappoint. I know there's been some conflict in BKK and the term "state of emergency" has been thrown around but I was safely in Chiang Mai by the time any violence started. I'm just posting quickly to say that I'm home safe and sound. I took the overnight bus home last night and didn't get much sleep. I'm at work now and don't really feel well. I'll put up a nice big Songkran post tomorrow.

much love,

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Spoke Too Soon!

No sooner had I put up that last post when the news breaks that the PPP demonstrators have created a massive traffic jam by blocking off all entrances to one of the main rotaries in the city with some taxis. Whoa! I think it's the rotary around the Victory Monument but I have a tough time telling which rotary is which. It messed with travel so badly that the phone was ringing off the hook with people saying they'd be late to class or that they were just gonna stay home. Then they even canceled my last class for the day! Again, don't worry about me. The protests are very peaceful (one truck/protest-float even has a big banner that says 'Non-violence'(in english))The parents calling in weren't scared of the protests, I'm sure they just didn't want to deal with the hassle of getting here. So I guess the protests have finally impacted my life. There's even talk of canceling school tomorrow(i doubt it) which would be really neat. I'd get to start my Songkran break a day early! If that happens, I'll take the skytrain over to Victory Monument and snap some sweet pictures. The fact that 'non-violence' was written in English makes me wonder if this is making any major news in the Western World or really anywhere outside Thailand. Is it?

one love,

EDIT: here's someone's running diary on Thursday's events I found in the Bangkok Post online.

"11:55 The weather is quite hot at the rally sites and, as usual, the number of protestors has dwindled considerably. They will return, however, a bit later in the day. Expect a big crowd for when the 24-hour ultimatum expires. The prime minister has firmly rejected the UDD demands and says he does not expect the protestors to surround his house.

12:30 The latest UDD plan appears to be to send groups of protestors to the Supreme Court, the Foreign Ministry and the Democrat Party headquarters. There are also threats to disrupt the Asean meeting in Pattaya tomorrow, but that might not be a good idea if the protesters want the former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra back in power.

14:00 The UDD have started their march on the Democract party headquarters, but more importantly to the people of Bangkok, taxi drivers have blocked off roads around Victory monument. The taxi association is threatening to block all Bangkok roads if the ultimatum is not met. That is not going to make them popular among Bangkok residents.

15:50 Only about 10 minutes to go before the UDD's deadline. There have been reports that the protestors would enter Government House if their demands weren't met, but core leader Nattawud Saikua denied that a few minutes ago.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is in Pattaya where the Asean summit is scheduled to begin tomorrow. He remains adament that it will take place and that he will not dissolve the House.

Meanwhile, the traffic jams continue.

16:25 Although it was taxi drivers who closed off Victory monument, it is the UDD that has taken it over. Several large mobile stages have been moved in. There is a big hospital there, so they better be careful. At the moment, ambulances can't get through.

19:15 The prime minister is scheduled to address the country shortly, the first time we have heard much from him today. He is supposed to do this at channel 11, but there are reports red-shirts are on there way there to stop him. We'll see. Meanwhile, traffic has come to a stop in much of the city. I was lucky because I could go much of the way by underground and the skytrain. I got off at Ekamai and walked the remaining two kilometres to my home. The traffic was moving but I could walk faster. The last time I looked outside, traffic travelling away from Sukhumvit toward Petchaburi, Rama 9 and Lard Praw was at a complete standstill. The main reason of course lies with taxi blockades by pro-Thaksin drivers in key locations in the city, particularly the Victory monument area. The UDD quickly took advantage and the have completely taken over the Victory monument and its surroundings. This is a risky strategy and it is still not clear how it will work out in the long run. It won't win many supporters in Bangkok, that is for sure.

22:00 Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva spoke a short time ago. He was his usual calm, confident self and he explained in detail why it was not appropriate or useful to give in the UDD demands. I'll have more on what he said in the morning, but there were a couple of points mentioning now. First, he said that 70 percent of the 100,000 plus protestors that showed up yesterday had gone home. That was a big reason why the protestor leaders change tactics today and become more aggressive. The needed to provoke a violent response from the government to gain support. They didn't get it and, thankfully, things are still calm. The PM said they will separate out the genuine protestors from the trouble-makers. Those creating problems for the public will face legal action. (UDD groups are still closing roads, incidentally. The latest blockage is at the entrance to Rama 4 at Sukhumvit 71. That's not far from where I live.)

The PM ended by saying that he and his government would never benefit personally from the actions they take – a clear reference to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Meanwhile, the UDD is preparing to send a big group to Pattaya to try to disrupt the Asean summit which begins tomorrow. That could create a difficult situation for the government that wants to avoid violence at all costs."

So that about sums up where we are right now. Obviously the UDD is the group I've falsely been referring to as the PPP. The Bangkok Post online is a good way to stay abreast of the situation and I'll keep you updated on any new developments that the papers may miss. Good night!

Here We Go Again

I'm sure you remember the big protests the PAD(yellow shirts) had late last year. Where they took over the airport and forced the a change in PM's. It was big news. Well now the opposing faction, the PPP (red shirts), has started some protests of their own. It's starting to gain attention but let me just say now that there's nothing to worry about. Much the same way the earlier protests had no real impact on my life, these too have yet to bother me. I'll keep you updated on any major developments.

Friday is my last day of work before the big Songkran break and I'll be heading up north to Chiang Mai for the festivities. Songkran is a dangerous holiday but only if you're a fool. Rest assured that I've read up on my safety tips and I certainly won't be riding a motorbike anywhere.

The north is seen as the heavier PPP area, much the way some see the Midwest in the US as more GOP. I'm eager to see if the the ongoing political unrest and the Thai new year celebration mix in some way this weekend. Should make for an interesting trip!

So in conclusion, don't worry. I'll be fine. Thanks for the concern though!

one love,

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I can’t keep you sufficiently updated on my life in Thailand if I don’t mention my new girlfriend. Relationships usually aren’t something I openly discuss so this is sorta weird for me but, then again, what is a blog really for? The very integrity of my blog would suffer if I failed to mention something as big in my life as a new girlfriend! So anyway, her name is Joy and she works at the Suvarnabhumi Intl. Airport. Not a stewardess but a different job for Korean Air. She was born and raised right here in Bangkok and lives on the northern rim of the city. It’s actually past the farthest Metro station and really close to Bangkok’s other airport, Don Muang. She actually gets to work by taking the shuttle between airports! We’ve been going out for around 2 months and have been meeting up whenever we can find the time. Our work schedules are completely opposite. She works the graveyard shift from 10pm – 4am and goes to bed when she gets home. Since I have work most days until 7ish there’s not a lot of overlap in our free time. We usually meet for dinner on her one night off (Saturday. Coincidentally the night before my earliest and longest day) and then again either Monday or Tuesday night before she goes to work.

Most recently we went out on Monday night to a place called MK which was really cool. I think it’s called Chinese bbq style or something. Anyway, there’s a big boiling pot in the middle and you basically order slices of meat or vegetables to dip in and they’re cooked in like a minute. Then there’s all kinds of sauces to dip them in. Maybe they have restaurants like this in the states but I’ve never seen one. You can also just load up the pot with other vegetables and things to get a good flavor. I ate a veritable smorgasbord of delights that included things like pig liver(good) and jellyfish(nah). Also with your bill you get a printout of the nutritional information for your meal, but I ate so much that the numbers were all skewed. Delicious!

After that we took a ‘dern len’ through the market and bought some English/Thai movies. This brings up two things. The first is my love of the word ‘len’ in Thai. It literally means ‘play’ but if you put it after another verb it pretty much means to do that activity leisurely. ‘Nang’ means sit but ‘nang len’ is more like lounge, also ‘dern’ is to walk where ‘dern len’ is to stroll. The other point to bring up is how incredible a foreign girlfriend is for learning a foreign language. So far our dates have been about 95% Thai. Joy understands English very well but has a hard time speaking it which is totally fine with me since I get a major reason to study Thai before our dates and then get to practice with her. There’s no way I’d know what I do now without that which is neat because just today I was complimented on how well my Thai has progressed! So if anyone’s thinking of visiting... try to book a flight that gets in between 10pm and 4pm :)

International Relations jokes and Joy-related inquiries welcome in the comments.

one love,

Saturday, April 4, 2009

When It Rains, It Pours

Since I'd been so busy at work I'd originally planned to sit down and type up my blogs at home in Microsoft Word and then just copy+paste when I got to work like JP suggested, but my time at home as been pretty busy too! Margy and Justin made their final appearance in Bangkok earlier this week so I'd been spending my time with them rather than typing alone. It was great to have them back again even though we spent most of our time hanging around. The rain has returned and has made it difficult to really plan to do anything outside. The plus side is that there's been some righteous thunderstorms. One of the corridors in our building is open-air on one side and has a great panoramic view of the West. (The sunsets are wicked. The actual sun is usually behind a forest of skyscrapers but there's a flat expanse south of it that really lights up with some cool clouds.) Anyway, this is the perfect place to watch a lightning storm cruise through, especially one with so much activity like the ones we've been getting.

In addition to Justin and Margy, we also picked up another new roommate. Ryan's friend from home has recently finished the Languagecorps Thailand program and has moved in with us. He's pretty cool and we're looking into a three bedroom place for when our lease runs out(May) And then on top of that, we also have old Languagecorps friends who've been in Vietnam coming to visit tonight! I was worried that maybe this chain of guests would slow down eventually but it seems to be picking up steam. It's even gotten to the point where I've unfortunately had to turn some guests away! (Sorry again:) Hopefully we'll have more room when we switch places but the house-hunting story will have to be for another time.

one love,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

I'm Back!

Well I know it's been a long, long, long time since you've heard anything from me and I feel terrible about that. I said it would never happen again and it did. I had two solid weeks of pretty much nothing and right on the day when I was gonna post about how there'd been so little, I was overcome with things to post about which ironically took up any time where I could!

After work one day, Yu the manager here said she was going to a friend's birthday party and asked if I wanted to come. Of course! I was warned repeatedly that this was going to be a 'Thai' birthday and would be nothing like what I'd expect..I'd probably be bored. I figured that was pretty weird thing to say, but I was willing to take that risk. After all, it had been a pretty mellow two weeks and I figured if nothing else, this would be something I could write about later. Anyway, it turned out to be very cool. The guy was super nice and very accommodating of Tara and me. Tara is a co-worker who also came. The party was a huge Thai dinner in a private karaoke room. They brought out plate after plate of food and you could scoop what you wanted. It was like Thanksgiving. I spent most of the time talking with Yu and Tara but occasionally I would speak with a Singaporean or a Thai who spoke English very well. My conversational Thai is improving but I'm still not at the point where I can chat about things in a loud crowded room. In fact my ability to speak has far outpaced my ability to listen and comprehend. I can sorta say what I need to say, but I still lack the wide vocabulary to understand everything said to me.

So the food keeps coming. More and more people keep showing up. And the Karaoke is starting. Perhaps I posted about this before but Karaoke is a little different here. It's a lot closer to the 'Japanese style' where instead of performing for strangers in a barroom, you and a group of friends reserve a private room. You even have personal attendants who help you with the song-picking machine. You really need a good sense of humor for that job, 'cause you gotta sit through some truly horrendous performances on a nightly basis. So anyway, not only is the venue different, but so are the t.v. screens. In 'western' karaoke, you stand up in front of a monitor and face the audience while words come up on the screen. Here you stand with your back to the crowd as you sing off a giant t.v. that is simultaneously playing a music video for the song. Rarely is it the true video for the song. Almost all of them are bizarre with a 'home movies' feel to it. They all revolve around an attractive farang female walking around and posing in some location. Mostly it's a pier or beach but occasionally it's the park. That's it. The song plays on and you watch a girl look wistfully out over the water. Then a scene of waves. Then maybe a close-up of crabs scuttling under the dock. Then girl walking. That kinda thing. You really get the feel that each one was made over the course of an afternoon. There also very interchangeable since the video has nothing to do with the song. I'm pretty sure I've seen the same one twice on different occasions. In any event, they're hilarious. My favorite was one where there was shot of a woman walking and behind her you could see kids rollerblading in the park (the videos also have an early 90's feel to them) and right as it cuts to a shot of her between two trees you see one kid totally wipe out. I'm sure he was fine.

So we left the party after a while and thanked our gracious host. I gave him a proper wai, then turned to the other guests still seating and wai'd them. In an informal setting like this you're allowed just put your hands together and sorta sweep a line of people with a couple nods. So I mowed them down like Commando and was on my way.

The next week at school I was hit with three more classes and haven't even bothered bringing in my computer most days. On top of that, school's out in Thailand and a lot of the kids are coming in for make-ups before they even have the class so they can go on holiday somewhere. I typed holiday in the previous sentence in place of vacation and that's definitely from being here and finding out which words Thai people know over others. I'm afraid I have also started calling the elevator the "lift", the period the "full-stop", and the bathroom just the "toilet".

I also know I said earlier that there's really only one sound Thais make for everything (the 'oooeee') but that's not true. There's also a sound that's sorta like 'aw' that I guess is the equivalent of 'oh?' or maybe 'huh?'. Mostly you hear "jing aw" which is "true, oh?" and is like asking "really?" also you can just repeat what someone says with an "aw" at the end to show your incredulity, ask for clarification, or lazily perpetuate a conversation. I don't think it's technically a word but that's more or less how it's used. There's more to talk about including more visitors(!) but I gotta get ready for my next class! I'll see if I can get more done at lunch tomorrow but it might be tough. Maybe a small little one? It seems, in my observation of other blogs, that shorter ones with one focus are best rather than 4,000 words on all kinds of stray thoughts that I tend to produce. I'll try to be more succinct later and perhaps even get out multiple posts in a day.

To reward your extraordinary patience for this post, I'll show you around my neighborhood:,+Thung+Maha+Mek,+Sathon,+Bangkok,+Thailand&sll=27.486269,-82.53022&sspn=0.008871,0.013647&gl=us&ie=UTF8&ll=13.721474,100.537648&spn=0.002428,0.003412&t=h&z=18

The link doesn't work but you can copy+paste it into the web address to get a view of Suanphlu. The big white building near the arrow is where I work and my home is just a 5 min walk south onto soi 8. It's the building that looks sorta like an "H". If you look closely you can see our pool! Keep this link in mind 'cause there's more to show you in the area. I really like it and will try to use it as much as possible. Now I can show you my favorite place to get pad thai, my favorite pad si-yew, the best place for khao paht muu, etc. On top of that I just got new batteries for my camera so maybe I can get some street level shots for the total experience!

One love,