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,

1 comment:

yatpay said...

Haha, oh man, I've been to a karaoke place like that and I know EXACTLY what kind of videos you're talking about. Good stuff. Did they have the Wheeled Warriors theme available to sing? =P

Glad you're posting again! Short focused entries do tend to work better but the long rambling ones are fun too!