Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I've been watching a lot of movies. Movies from every genre, some English, some Thai. I recently watched a Thai horror movie called "Shutter" which I enjoyed and found genuinely scary. I guess they've since remade it in Hollywood to poor reviews, but while usually citing the original as superior. Anyway. I've been thinking a lot about the Thai language and it's seeming lack of depth in communication. I suppose I'm spoiled by the English language which offers dozens of synonyms for every word, each with their own nuances and connotative differences. There is a seemingly endless array of words with which to construct exactly what you mean to say. Not the case in Thailand. Instead of saying things like: annoyed, angry, and irate, you say: a little angry, angry, and very angry. You can create the differences yourself, but it feels like the desired effect is lost. Not that you're misunderstood in any way, but that you aren't able to express your feelings as you truely want. Having grown up with a different language it's hard to settle on saying "very happy" when I know there's words out there that can convey "euphoric", "elated", or "ecstatic". The same way I imagine the Inuit must feel in that cliched fact about their 8 words for snow. Sure we get the job done by saying "wet, heavy snow" but why can't English have an exact word for that? I know I don't speak Thai anywhere close to fluently yet, but I was starting to see a disappointing lack of superfluous vocabulary. Surely there's a difference between a rat and a mouse, right?

I have a point. I'm getting to it. When I recently watched "Shutter", I had the subtitles on but was able to pick up phrases and certain parts of the Thai conversations (It really helps to hear it when you know what they're about to say!). Then I started to notice some simple phrases were translated differently depending on who was speaking to whom or what emotions were being expressed. It got me thinking back to a conversation I had a while ago about the difference between a speaker-oriented language (ex. English) and a listener-oriented language (ex: Thai). In Thai and many other Asian languages, the listener is responsible for comprehending what the speaker has to say. Taking it in for themselves and understanding contextually the nuances of what was said. Maybe that's what I'm missing. There are all these feelings and emotions out there to assign to words; it's just my resposiblilty to do so when someone says them to me. And likewise, for me to trust that what I say will be properly understood. So much so that if, in a movie, I heatedly ask "Understand?" the one listening should interpret that as "You just don't get it, do you?!" Wild stuff.

Much Love,

ps I hear there's some serious snow up there. Any pics? and how would you best describe the snow?

Irate = โกรธแค้น
Annoyed = รำคาญ / หงุดหงิด
Angry= โมโห
ecstatic = ปิติ/ ยินดี
euphoric = สบายใจ
elated = รื่นเริง
I have a lot to learn...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Well, It's been a long long time since I've posted anything but I'm hoping to change that over the next couple days. Sorta like a 12 days of Christmas kinda thing. I've mentioned before how I Can Read's vacation leave breaks down, but it has undergone a change recently. We now get fewer days off we can pick and choose, but get more days off around the actual holidays. While it stinks to have fewer days off like this, it is nice to have actual holidays off. Since we work all day on the weekends we miss a lot of social events already. It's even worse when we have to work on days when most of the city has the day off (not to mention the fact that the classes are only 25% capacity). All this means is that I now have a lengthy break coming up around the new year. I think our plan is just to hang around, maybe take a quick trip to Kanchanaburi just to get out of the city. I'm expecting some visitors in the coming months so I'd rather save up for that.

A lot of people are going home for the holidays so one of my friends had a pre-christmas party last week. She ordered a gigantic turkey with potatoes and stuffing. Oh man. It was so good. Mama's kitchen (restaurant right next to my apartment) was talking about doing another turkey dinner on Christmas day which would also be fantastic. Just know that I'll be thinking of everyone twice as much in the next couple days. Miss you guys.

Much Love

ps I have to work on Xmas day and the 26th But I can bring my computer for potential Skyping. I would have breaks from 12:30 - 1:30 both days and also 10:00am - 11:00 on Sunday (10:00pm - 11:00 est Sat.)
New Skype ID: James.Pizza send me some requests! Let's Jam!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Father's Day

It's Father's Day today in the Kingdom. It's a national holiday and one of the few I get off from work. It's extra sweet this year since it falls on a Sunday which gives me a three-day weekend! I think I've mentioned this before but today is also the King's birthday which means there's gonna be some serious fireworks tonight. There will be firework displays all over the city but our plan is to go up around the royal palace where (I assume) the best one is gonna be. Typically the Thai people all wear yellow on the King's big day but due to the political goings-on it's been changed. Last year it was pink in memory of the King's sister who died earlier in the year. I've done a little scouting and I'm not sure what the color is today but that's ok. We just gotta figure it out before we go up to the palace and are surrounded by thousands all in the one color.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there!!

Much Love

EDIT: It's pink again!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme Mania has hit Thailand and hit it hard. About a month ago Thailand's first Krispy Kreme branch opened and the response was ridiculous. The line not only went around the corner, but it left the building and went down the street! There were signs along the line saying things like 'six hour wait from this point'. Six hours! It was all a part of their grand opening promotion where they were giving away tons of free donuts if you bought a dozen. The strange thing is that on day two, the line was out the door again. No free donuts but customers still waiting in long lines just to get..a krispy kreme(?). The demand has remained high which is a little baffling to me. I don't know if everyone just wants to try the donut that caused such a fuss or if they genuinely find them so delicious. Maybe it's a little bit of both.

Much Love

Here's a link to the article

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Loy Loy Kratong

Hey Everyone! I’m really sorry for not posting anything in a long, long time. My one month internet connection in my apartment expired last week and now that I’m working full time I’ve decided to just use the internet when at work and use my time at home for other things. The only problem with that is, just like before, I don’t have any access to the internet on my days off (Mon, Tue) and I’m hesitant to transport my laptop back and forth from work on Sundays when I work in Bangna. So there goes half the week. My apologies for not being connected the past couple days, I promise I’ll be around and keep updating as often as I can. For now, there’s a couple big stories to get into to.

The first story would have to be my new girlfriend. Her name is Songtai and she works for the AIS phone service provider here in Thailand. As always, my work schedule makes it tough to find time together but we’ve managed. We had a date last Sunday which brings me to story two.

I think I’ve mentioned Loy Kratong on here before but just in case you forgot it’s one of the major holidays here. It’s always on the full moon in November and is for celebrating the end of the rainy season/ thanking the water spirits for the rice harvest. Part of the celebration is the floating of the ‘kratong’, a small little boat made of banana leaves and flowers. You’re supposed to make a wish and let it go in the water where it will float away along with all your worries. Pretty cool. You can buy pre-made kratongs all over the place on the day, or you can buy the materials and make it yourself. I had so much fun making mine last year that I had to do it again. So Andrew, Vanessa, Fern, Songtai, and I made ours up in my room and made our way down to the Chao Praya (big river running through Bangkok). It was crazy. The spot where we went is always one of the most popular to go floating so there were people everywhere. There was a concert with traditional thai dancing which is always cool. There were a dozen places to float your kratong in some stagnant water but we wanted to put em in some flowing water. We got tickets for the river taxi to take us out to the middle of the river to let them go which was definitely the way to go. The whole time you could hear the loud music of the concert and see the fireworks going off in the distance. Thailand loves fireworks on their holidays and Loy Kratong is no exception. There have actually been fireworks going off every night for weeks in preparation for the big day. Off my balcony you can see 3 or 4 separate displays at a time. Another thing the Thais love to do is release ‘kom fai’. They’re floating lanterns that take off into the sky when you light the candle inside (You’re supposed to make a wish with these too). There’s some pictures of the festival that’re making their way online and I’ll have them up here when I find them.

That’s the biggest news from the past week. I’m getting really excited for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, but I’ll obviously be really homesick at the same time. I think we’ll go to the same steakhouse we went to last year that had the thanksgiving buffet which promises to be delicious. I have so much to be thankful for.

much love

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Back at It

I just finished my first week as a full-time employee of I Can Read and it's good to be back. The girl I'm taking over for works at the Sathorn center just like I did before except on weekends she travels to other centers around town, so Sundays I go down to the Bangna center (the place I was doing all that part-time work). It's been great so far with both of us jointly teaching the classes. Some of the kids still remember me from long ago which is pretty cool. Aside from that, I haven't been doing much of anything. Andrew and his girlfriend moved to an apartment down the road that has a free pool on the roof so I've been going over there on my days off. I've been having issues with visas and work permits and all sorts of paperwork which is really a drag but I think the end is in sight. We've been talking about a little trip down to Koh Samet but no real plans yet. The King's birthday (natl holiday) falls on a Sunday this year so I'm thinking that might be the best time to try..

I'll keep you guys updated on anything and everything going on over here.

Much love,

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Arrival

A few days ago a new visitor came to the land of smiles. I had met him in March '09 when he and two others came here to visit Ryan and do some traveling. Well now he's moved here for real to start teaching English and I've been helping him get situated. It's great having him here for a couple reasons. The first is obviously that it's nice to have someone else my age to hang out with. Especially since both Fern and Tara will be leaving the country within the month. The second is that he's given me a new appreciation for the small things here. As we've been walking around the city, getting him oriented, he constantly remarks on how great something is or how much he loves some aspect of life here. Things that I, somehow, stopped noticing after a while. It's great to be reminded that I live in such a cool place.

I start work full-time in November so I've been trying to take advantage of my time off before I lose it. I'm thinking of maybe a quick trip down to Koh Samet or something. Just a little pre-work vacation. We'll see. I also picked up a bit of a cold. Quite a feat since it's been 90 or higher the past three days. I'm gonna blame the air-conditioning in 7/11. Anyway, i'm getting plenty of vitamin C and it should be gone in no time. Nothing to worry about.

much love

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Let it shine

It's rainy season. I get it. But usually it rains for an hour or two then lets up, leaving a clear blue sky above. That hasn't been the case as of late. It has been rainy for the past three days. Sometimes a downpour, sometimes just a drizzle, sometimes that cloudy, overcast, about-to-rain atmosphere, but always rainy. I've talked to people who have been here a while and they said it's never lasted this long before. The good news is that I'm keeping busy with work and have been occupied for most of it. A lot of the teachers are going on short little vacations now so there's plenty of fill-in work. The other good news is that this morning it finally stopped! I'm sure it will rain again today or tomorrow, but for now it's nice to have a blue sky and chirping birds. I'm off to celebrate with some pizza and some lounging by the pool.

much love

Monday, October 11, 2010

James goes to Camp

Well, I did my first English Camp last week. It was a lot of fun and I hope to do another one soon. It was at a resort in Nahkon Nayok which is about 2 hours outside the city. When I heard ‘resort’ I originally thought it would be somewhere along the gulf coast but it was actually north-east of here and situated in the hills.

Day one started early. We (9 teachers and 2 staff) spent the night in a hotel far from the resort and we had to be there for opening ceremonies at 8:30. We had a great group of people from all over the world. English, Canadian, South African, Philippino, and American. Pretty groovy. We opened up with some songs and simple introductions. I had been told what to expect but I was still nervous. I Can Read caps their classes at 8 students so I’m never really dealing with a large crowd. This camp had something like 260 kids. Eventually we broke down into 9 teams with me as the head of Team 2 (later re-named Super 2). There were all kinds of silly games and challenges for the kids to do. I suppose this was rather obvious going in but I failed to realize that I would be more of a camp counselor and not really a teacher, which was fine with me. We did do a little teaching on the subject of the wonders of the world. We circled around to each of the teams and did a little presentation. I taught on the Coliseum. After lunch there was a period for the kids to go of and play games. A couple of the teachers and I were in charge of the soccer match which was a lot of fun. The field had a nice view of the mountains rising up and a light rain fell which cooled us off a little. After that (we won obv) there was time for a shower, dinner, and a few end of the day activities before some much needed sleep.

Day two started with breakfast and a few ceremonies. There are always a lot of ceremonies. We played a couple more games, watched a slide show of the day before (?) and wrapped it up with a concluding ceremony. There they announced the winner of our camp-long battle for team supremacy. Sadly, Super 2 didn’t win although we dominated the team cheer competition and placed a strong third in the ‘Build your own Wonder’ contest. We had lunch and were in a van heading back to Bangkok by 1:30. These English camps all vary in length and can be up to 5 days long, probably more. I would like to try my hand at a longer one someday. I made some new friends and now I feel plugged in to a whole new community of English camp ex-pats. My friend (who originally set me up on this) had a birthday party the other night and I ended up running into some of the people I had just met a couple days earlier. Very cool. All in all it was a very enjoyable trip, and I’m glad I did it.

Much love

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thailand Open

The past couple days have been pretty busy. One of the full-time I Can Read teachers at the Bang Na center got sick and has been out all week. I wish here a speedy recovery, but in the meantime i've been picking up her classes and having fun doing it. This was my second weekend teaching the same kids so they were more comfortable with which made class go a lot smoother. The trip out to Bang Na is a bit of an ordeal. I try and save on cab fare by walking/motorbiking to the skytrain where I go to the end of the line and hop on one of the aforementioned buses. All in all a little over an hour. The return trip is even worse since the bus can get stuck in rush hour traffic. I didn't get all the way home till 9pm friday night! (although I did stop for dinner before getting all the way home.)

Well anyway, the other day my friend Fern called me and said she had tickets to the semifinal round of the Thailand Open, the big tennis tournament going on now. It sounded like an awesome idea since 1) I'd never seen a pro tennis match and 2) I'd been looking something fun to do and 3) I still hadn't seen Fern since I'd returned to Thailand. Perfect! The matches were held at the Impact Arena way north of the city. Technically not even in Bangkok, in Nonthaburi. I got there as fast as I could from Bang Na (far south-east of bangkok) and was just in time to watch the feature match of the day. World Ranked #1 Rafael Nadal play #53 Guillermo Garcia Lopez. Very cool. Like I said, I've never attended a live tennis match before so I can't really comment on how this was any different from a western venue. But there were a few things. There was a small group of people in support of Garcia Lopez. They didn't do much, just shouted 'Lopez" in that silence between the clapping for a point and the serving of the next. Apparently this just wouldn't stand with the Nadal supporters in the house. After "Lopez" there would be a smattering of "Nadal" from around the arena. They would go back and forth for a while. Then once inbetween games there was a crazy man in a ridiculous outfit shouting from up in the stands. Apparently he said something pretty funny since the arena loved it. Then as an exclamation point on his antics, he swung around an enormous prop tennis racket. Some comedy we could all enjoy. Aside from that, there was just some general rowdiness in the audience. Everytime there was a long rally or a winning drop shot or anything out of the ordinary, the fans would start to whoop and holler like crazy. I don't know if that's the same at other matches and the TV just drowns it out or what.

I don't know if this made any news in the US, but Nadal ended up losing the match. The crowd was mainly there to see Nadal play and were very supportive of him as he breezed through his first set. But by the end of the match, I think there was genuine suppport for the underdog and they wanted to see an upset. I've mentioned before about the lack of pro sports here and the only thing to realy watch is Premiere League Soccer. Not only is that the only thing to watch, but all the Thais seem to only care about the top teams. I understand that they have no geographical ties to the league and are free to support whomever they want. There's no good reason not to cheer for the best. Aside from the fact that they're the best. I began to feel that maybe rooting for an underdog, something I once thought universal, was not at all common here. It was the potentially the first point of Thai culture that I found odd and almost irreconcilable. Who cheers for Goliath? That's why it was nice to hear the unassigned patrons of the Impact Arena clapping and stomping and cheering for a #53 to upset a #1.

Much Love

ps I'm heading 2 hours outside of Bangkok tomorrow to work at my first English Camp. It's a couple days of teaching and playing games with a bunch of kids. I've been told that they're lots of fun. I'll report on all the fun when I get back!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reverse Reverse

I know a lot of you are curious as to how i'm handling the change back to Thai life. Wondering if there's some sort of reverse-reverse-culture shock after being in back in the states for so long. There's not. There are cultural differences for sure, but they are far from shocking this time around. Bowing to people, taking off shoes before entering rooms, even the foreign language is very unforeign to me. The big difference i'm getting used to isn't USA -> Thailand, it's Chatham -> Bangkok. Now there's subways and skytrains and events and concerts and noise and pollution and stores that stay open past 9pm and 6.3 billion people. It takes a litle getting used to but, like i said, i've done this before.

One thing I'm taking advantage of and loving is the use of the Bangkok bus system. I never had much use for it before since I only lived 5 minutes from work, but now I'm doing part-time stuff at I Can Read centers all over town and have started to really dig it. Unless there's a lot of people getting on or off, the bus doesn't stop it just slows down. You hop aboard a rusty, smelly bus with wooden floorboards. All the windows are open and there's several fans rotating around above you. You try to find a seat quickly since the bus has pulled into traffic while you were still climbing the stairs and then someone staggers over to collect your fare (8฿) and hand you a small ticket stub. I'm not totally familiar with the areas where i've been working but there's always huge crowds getting off where i'm going so I don't need to pay too much attention. I can just enjoy the ride. I think I enjoy it so much because it's one of the things in Bangkok that seems genuinely foreign. Bangkok is a cosmopolitan city and in a lot of ways not so different from New York or Madrid or any major city. It's refreshing when I can experience something new that's really, truely different here. Just a little culturally shocking.

Much Love

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Peaceful Protest

I'm sure you all know about the violent protests here last spring. There's no need to get into that again, nor is there cause for concern now. Some of you may have read about the large red-shirt protests in Bangkok over the weekend. The supporters of former PM Thaksin all gathered together this weekend, mainly Saturday, to reassert their claim of a need for new government. There weren't any attempts to foment a major revolution this time. In fact, they mostly gathered to remember those who died during the protests in April and May. It was more of a vigil this time than a protest.

I had heard earlier in the week that there was gonna be some red-shirt activity but only that I should prepare for traffic. There was nothing to worry about. There is nothing to worry about.

Here's the article: Protesters Return to Streets of Bangkok

Much love,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Return!

Sawasdee Krap! I’ve returned to Thailand and that means it’s time to get the ol’ blog running again. Where to begin? My trip over here wasn’t bad at all. I didn’t have any issues with boarding or luggage. The guy at the ticket counter gave me a choice of seating for the extra-long D.C. to Seoul flight. He gave me the option of taking a middle seat somewhere or getting an aisle seat next to a baby. Not an easy decision. I gambled and went with the baby. An excellent choice since the seat was at the front of the section (extra leg room) and the baby didn’t make a peep the whole trip.

I left the airport around 10pm. The balmy night air carried that smell. The smell of South-East Asia. It’s not good or bad, just different. I really can’t describe it and I have since gotten used to it again, but for the first 24 hours I breathed deep, breathing it all back in. I took a taxi to the apartment building where I lived before. Dead tired. My plan to stay up the entire trip was moderately successful and I haven’t suffered any serious jetlag except I’ve woken up at 8am the past three days. Does it count as jetlag if my sleep schedule is now in tune with most people? So far I’ve been spending my time getting my life in order. I’ve been offered my old job back so there’s a good place to start. It’ll be part-time stuff for a while until the position is vacated. Traffic in Bangkok is always bad so I started looking for apartments within walking distance of the school. I searched high and low, rich and poor. After a long hot day of checking apartments and dredging up my Thai conversation skills I decided to get another room at Villa Suan Phlu. It had the best balance between a life of luxury and a Spartan existence and is situated near dozens of delicious dining options. Oh man, the food. I’ve been cruising around seeing who’s still here, who’s not. Which of my favorite places are still in business. The food court across from my apartment is still intact and Mama’s kitchen is now twice as big. Jamie’s, where I ate everyday, is under new management but still seems to have great food. There are a few more places I have to check out but so far, so great.

Well, I gotta go! Today’s my first day as a replacement teacher at Sathorn and I gotta get ready. I’m looking forward to updating you on my new adventures. It’s good to be back!

Much love

Friday, June 25, 2010

Video - Fruits

When I got to Thailand, I was amazed at how many new and different fruits there were. Ones that you wouldn't really encounter that often in the US were all of a sudden everywhere. A lot of which I had never even heard! Here's a little video introduction to the new world of weird fruits. Sorry for the windy intro. It goes away after a bit.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Video - Tour

At long last, I have started uploading my Thailand videos! The first one's just a tour of my apartment where I was for the scond half of my stay. This video was taken sometime in June, I think, so the apt isn't fully decorated yet. I eventually got a couch and hung up my flag..