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