Thursday, November 10, 2011


Flight leaves tomorrow morning at 5:55 which makes this my last day. I've had a great time. Last night was a fitting send-off. My girlfriend and I went to our favorite restaurant for some shabu and sushi, then we went to the carnival which is in town and rode some sweet rides, and we finished the night at Blues Bar (my favorite place) with an all-star cast jamming out their greatest hits. A fine day indeed. Today is my last day which means frantically running around and tying up loose ends while simultaneously celebrating my girlfriends' birthday (11/11/11). If this post seemed rushed it's because it totally was. I'll sit down and write a proper post once I touch down in the Western Hemisphere. BKK->Tokyo->NYC->Washington DC.

Much Love

Monday, October 31, 2011

Nam Tuam 2

It's been over a week now and the flood has yet to make it anywhere near my door. It's been making slow progress all over the city but Sathorn remains pretty dry.This is good news but while I've haven't had to wade through waist deep water, the flood has had an impact on my last days here. As some of you may know, this past week was my last at I Can Read and I was looking forward to seeing some of my students again and saying goodbye. The flood changed all that with either the students leaving town or not being able to reach the school. This was partly due to flooding and partly due to horrible traffic jams caused by cars abandoned on the highways by people in a panic about flooding. I didn't have a single full class and over half of them were straight-up cancelled which meant a pretty boring last week. People panicking has also caused some problems when it comes to shopping anywhere. First of all there's no more fresh water. Stores have been out for a long time and the treated water from the dispensers now tastes like tap water did (and the tap water now tastes like unholy garbage). The water thing doesn't bother me too much since I have a nice supply, but when I want to get some everyday things like toilet paper or a can of coke I now have to wander from store to store until I find one in stock. And yes I got what might've been the last roll of toilet paper in the country.

With all my free time at work, I went down to the riverside on Friday to see how the water levels were and took some pictures of some light flooding. It was just barely over the sides and the sandbags were doing a nice job of keeping it on the pier and funnelling into the drains.

A view of I Can Read's Sandbag wall. They added another level after the PM came out and said it was gonna get worse before it got better.

A lot of people had the same idea to come check it out. This is "my stop" for the river taxi.

The part in the foreground is supposed to be wet. The picnic table is not. PS Notice how high the dock is.

Some sandbags and walkways at the SkyTrain stop.

The wall they built around the 7/11. This thing has been up for weeks now. I guess they're just gonna knock it down later. The weird thing is that the 7/11 across the street has barely any protection at all.

That's all the flood coverage for now. I'm officially through with work so I'll have the next couple weeks to hang out and give Thailand a proper goodbye. I know you're all wondering so let me just tell you the ticket has indeed been booked. The plane leaves at 5:55am on November 12th. It feels like a long way away and too short all at once. For now, though, I'm just worried about Halloween! Have a spooky one everybody! and, as always, costume pics are very appreciated!

Much Love

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nam Tuam

Sorry for the cliffhanger, gang, but when I went up to the north of the city I didn't get any great flood pics. I didn't even get any bland flood pics. No pics at all. Now to be honest, I went up there to check out the Jatujak weekend market and any gripping photojournalism would have just been an added bonus, but it was like there wasn't a natural disaster right next door. I've learned now that it's important to distinguish between a flash flood and a regular flood. When I heard that the water was breaching the city limits, I figured it would be at my door by dinnertime but that certainly wasn't the case. Make no mistake, it's coming, it's just taking its sweet time. Mother Nature has helped out by giving Bangkok four straight days of beautiful sunshine but a rainstorm last Tuesday night has accelerated the flood's progress. The government has done a great job of totally mismanaging the situation and after weeks of "Don't Worry, Don't Panic" type messages, the PM finally changed her tune yesterday morning and told residents of all areas to brace for flooding. The Chao Praya river that runs through the city is at capacity and they're saying the water will likely surge over the 2.5 meter embankment sometime this weekend if not sooner. Out on the streets, places are busy sandbagging and some are even building cheap concrete walls around their doors (some places actually did this weeks ago). I've done my own bit of flood prep too. I'll be alright. There's nothing to worry about till there's something to worry about and I'll keep you posted if something happens. I did take a couple of pictures around the soi of sandbags and the temporary concrete walls but is having trouble loading them up. I'll hang on to them and put 'em up together with any others I take in the next few days. Keep calm.

Much Love

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Flood

It looks bad. The flood has made its devistating march from up north and is now knocking on Bangkok's door. I'm not sure what the papers back home have been saying but as we go to print it's just now reached the city limits. So far the flood has really put a hurtin' on the areas to the north, notably Ayuttaha, but I don't think it's any match for the prevention systems in place to protect the city of angels. Things will get wet and some people who've evacuated will be glad they did, but I don't think the damage will be anywhere near what the footage of other areas has shown. Anyone particularly worried about me shouldn't be. I'm in a part of Bangkok that looks to be the safest and dryest should things go awry. Also my room is on the 8th floor. The only real probs this flood has caused so far are just minor inconveniences. I spent the past few days in Hua Hin (nice vacation destination about 2 hours south) and the traffic coming back in last night was dreadful. My friend can't leave his parking garage because scared motorists have driven all their cars up as high as they can and blocked everything in. The paper today said people have just been abandoning their cars on top of expressways and overpasses to keep them safe (obviously causing huge traffic problems in the process). Although this part of town is the safest, shops and houses are still putting up sandbags everywhere. Even I Can Read got in on the act. Tomorrow I have my first Saturday off in the city since last year so I plan to head out and take some pictures around town. I hear that if anything's gonna happen, it'll be tomorrow so I'll put those up as soon as I get back but until then here's some pictures of Thai folks taking the flood in stride. This is a horrible natural disaster but that's no reason to take yourself too seriously.

Much Love

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Catching up

Wow. It's been a long time since I wrote anything here but a lot's been happening so let's see if I can cover it all in the next few days. I will address the pressing issues like the flooding in Bangkok and my impending return home in future posts but for now let's pick up where we left off: Pook's wedding.

Because we had to work late, we missed the actual ceremony (5am start!) but were on time for the reception at the Mon Tien Riverside Hotel. I haven't been to too many U.S. weddings and even fewer Thai ones so I can't say what the differences were but there were little things I noticed. The family/friends/food part was obviously the same but instead of the Best Man and Maid of Honor getting up and giving toasts independent of one another, they acted as joint emcees for the evening. They introduced other guests of honor like the couple's parents and employers and had them give little speeches. Then the couple got up and told the story of how they met which I was told happens at most Thai weddings. The cutting of the cake was the same except the cake was 10' tall and they used a sword (but that might've been due to the groom's military career). Afterwards, as with any Thai ceremony, there were thousands of pictures to be taken. There was a little stage set up and every friend, family member and coworker in every permutation had to get in a picture with the couple. The only major difference I noticed that night was the total lack of dancing. There was a band and plenty of room for it but no one shook a leg. That's alright though because everyone had a great time and I wish nothing but the best for Pook and her husband. Here's some pics as promised.

The monster cake being sliced

The lovely bride with Andrew and me

The gang from I Can Read Sathorn

The staff from all the ICR centers in Bangkok

My girlfriend and me in front of megacake

Much Love

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The manager of my I Can Read center is getting married tomorrow and guess who's invited to the wedding! I've never been to a Thai Buddhist wedding before and I'm really excited to go. We don't get out of work until 6 so we'll miss the ceremony (normally in the morning) but I've seen pictures and it looks like there'll be lots of praying and merit-making. I'll let you know how the reception goes and hopefully be back with some pictures.

Much Love

Thursday, July 7, 2011

No Signs

The elections were only five days ago and it already seems like a weird dream. The newspapers are running news again instead of articles about a candidate’s favorite restaurants or what’s on their night stand, people have resumed wearing red and yellow shirts without making bold political statements, and the 8ft tall election posters that blanketed the city have all vanished without a trace. I wanna talk more about these posters because they really are ridiculous. Instead of a small card saying “Elect So-and-so” in some red/white/blue scheme staked in the lawn, Thailand instead opts for larger than life posters on cheap wooden frames placed anywhere there’s a pole or a tree to tie them to. Literally anywhere. I had planned to take some pictures of some of my favorites to share with you but there was some kind of massive, massive clean-up on the night of the 3rd and there’s hardly a trace that they were even there. Here’s a couple I pulled off the internet.

We’ll start with the victorious candidate. This is a typical poster for Yingluck Shiniwatra and her Pheu Thai party. The numbers assigned to the parties are based on some kind of random ping-pong ball machine like the lottery which gathers lots of attention (Thais can really get into lucky/unlucky numbers).

Here’s former Prime Minister Abhiset. You had a good run?

This was my favorite candidate. Apparently he runs every year as somewhat of a joke. He campaigned with the message “enough with corruption in government!” He made his millions as a sleazy massage parlor tycoon. He’s a member of parliament now.

This series of posters created a stir.They have a variety of creatures on them and they basically say “No animals in government” and were directly targeted at members of the Pheu Thai party. Calling someone an animal here, especially a dog or buffalo is a pretty serious insult so this shocked even me.

Here's an idea of how ubiquitous these posters were. During the final week before elections it really approached critical mass. It actually got difficult to find somewhere to cross the street.

That's the story from over here. Hope all's well back home and you're all enjoying the summer.

much love

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th

Well the numbers are in. The red shirts took an overwhelming number of parliament seats and Yingluck Shiniwatra is Thailand’s first female prime minister. We’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out in the coming months.

The post-election mood here in the city is pretty somber despite it being an absolutely beautiful day. I just hope it’s this nice back home for the parades and especially the cookouts. Eat up on those burgers and dogs for me! Have a great 4th of July everyone.

Much love

Sunday, July 3, 2011


July 3rd. Election day. As the Thai people cast their votes there’s really only one question on everyone’s mind: Reds or Yellows? I think you all are somewhat aware of the political situation here but let me break it down. First of all, there are more than two parties. I know it sounds like it’s just the two sides fighting for control but there’re other players. They aren’t nearly as polarizing (or popular) but they do have their views and they bring in enough votes that they can’t be dismissed. The real big dogs though are the Pheu Thai Party (red shirts’ new party) and the People’s Alliance for Democracy (yellow shirts). Before you ask “which is republican and which is democrat?” let me just say that the answer isn’t that easy and there isn’t really a 1:1 match. All this drama started with Thaksin Shinawatra who was a telecommunications tycoon turned Prime Minister was convicted on corruption charges 5 years ago. He fled the country rather than go to prison and the Thai government has seized something like $2 billion of his money. While he was in office, Thaksin was a champion of the poor down-trodden farmer increasing social spending to rural areas and building a strong voter base (the red shirts) who want to see his policies continued. The yellow shirts, on the other hand, are more closely associated with the military, the royal family, and the city-dwellers (liberal elite?) Thaksin was tossed out on legitimate corruption charges but it was seen by his supporters as a big-city scheme to toss out the one guy working hard for them (and Thaksin played no small part in spreading that idea). The next guy in line after Thaksin was his brother or something so he was tossed quickly too, and then the yellow shirts tossed the third guy after he appeared on a cooking show breaking constitutional law somehow (something about receiving payment for non-governmental service… a very flimsy excuse which rightfully enflamed the red shirts further.) All this led to a yellow shirted PM and a lot of angry farmers.

The elections today are part of the settlement of the violent protests of about a year ago and the outcome will say a lot about Thailand. If the yellow shirts win and retain power, then we will likely see allegations of corruption and vote tampering and probably another large scale protest. The other scenario is the red shirts prevail, elect Thailand’s first ever female prime minister (Thaksin’s little sister), and open up the doors for Thaksin to reenter the country that he divided. Either way there’s gonna be some aftermath so keep watching the news. I'll have some more follow-up on this later.

Much love

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Songkran 2

Oh man. I’ve really let this blog collect some dust. I wanna get you all up to speed on my life and Thai life in general but it’s gonna take a little time. I should start with a recount of the World’s Greatest Holiday: Songkran. I traveled to Chiang Mai just as I did last time around and ended up staying in the same radical guesthouse. This was the guesthouse that organized the group trips and activities throughout the 3-day holiday. I was bummed when I got there early morning on the 13th and found out I had missed the excursion into the quiet near-by village for some stories and authentic Thai desserts. I quickly got over that as I stashed my things in the room and went out into the city to find Ryan who had gone up a day earlier and was staying somewhere within the walled city. (Side note: the traffic flows pretty freely during Songkran except for the streets surrounding the wall where it’s a standstill. To cross this war zone into the old town requires incredible bravery. There’s no bigger bulls-eye than a solitary farang sitting in a convertible tuk-tuk that’s inching its way down a crowded street.) Our group was considerably smaller than last time. It was Ryan, a couple cool folks he had met traveling, and me. We also kept running into these two Dutch guys everywhere which was always fun. The three days were great. Day one was spent preparing for battle and trying to connect with the others. Cell phones are the first tragedy of water war so there was a lot of running and retreating to dry areas to try to answer a call before a hang up. We eventually got together and made the most of it. We were able to safely maneuver our way back to Ryan’s hotel which became our base of operations. There was a Thai tourism agency open across the way and they were delighted to host four wet farangs as they themselves were big fans of the Songkran festivities. Days two and three are pretty similar. Not a whole lot of riding in trucks this year although we did make it down to the main gate where all the concerts and events were going on. Once we got there we would set up at a good water station (hose, 50 gal. drum, large ice block) and proceed to soak all comers until it was time to move on to the next one. You never know what else is out there!

What was nice about Songkran this year was that after the holiday I still had 4 more days off. We decided to spend an extra day up in Chiang Mai and see some of the sights. We took a trip Wat Doy Suthep (I think that’s the name) which is a large temple on the top of a mountain with a beautiful view of the city. We spent a good portion of our afternoon there just walking around and taking pictures. Then we made our way to the Chiang Mai zoo. There was a lot to see there but we made sure we got to see the main attraction, Lin-Ping the panda. This panda cub was all the rage when it was born even getting it's own 24 hour panda channel (basically a live feed of the panda pen). By the time we left the zoo, it was just about time to get down to the bus station and head back to BKK. What really surprised me, as we went back to town, was how suddenly the Songkran holiday had ended. I expected some residual water fighting or at least a clue or two as to the bedlam of the days before but there was nothing. Not a soul was standing on the corner of the moat where hundreds had taken place in a water melee just 24 hours prior. Weird.

That’s just about all to report on this Songkran. We made it back to Bangkok just fine and had plenty of time to readjust to normal, dry life. Sorry for the major gap between posts. I really wanna get this post up so I can get to what’s going on in Thailand right now: Elections! It’s time for the special elections that were promised after the disastrous protests in April/May ’10. Election day is on Sunday and I’m sure no matter what happens, there’s gonna be somebody who is upset with the outcome. Stay tuned!

Much love

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wild Weather

I’m not sure how much Thai news makes the pages of the Farang papers but I’ll give you a quick little update. The most recent headline is that the UDD (Red Shirts) is up to their old tricks again, but I’ll get to that later. What was strange and totally unexpected was the weather in Thailand this past month. Around the same time as the earthquake in Japan and the ‘supermoon’, the temperature here plummeted and it started to rain regularly. Just to be clear, Thailand has three seasons: Hot, Cold, and Rainy. We were right in the middle of hot season and it was anything but. I know lows of 15c are far from bone-chilling and I’m not asking for your pity (in fact I loved it) I’m just saying it was bizarre. It would be like having the coldest day of the year in late June. The weird weather struck the whole country too. Heavy rains led to devastating flooding in the south that they’re still recovering from. Andrew had a friend from there visiting when it all went down and she’s still here ‘cause her home is drying out. And while the south had too much water, there was also terrible drought up north. Weird times. The Bangkok weather has since returned to normal and the past couple days have been full of the oppressive heat and humidity that I associate with mid-April. That’s great news because we’re rapidly coming up on Songkran!! The greatest holiday on the planet!! Songkran is the celebration of the Thai New Year and consists of a three-day nation wide water fight. I’m heading up to Chiang Mai tonight to spend the holiday there and come home next week. I’ll give you all the details of my adventure then. The Red Shirts are once again holding giant rallies in the city. As far as I can tell they’re just holding them to commemorate those killed last time they had a giant rally in Bangkok. No one knows whether they’ll be in-and-out or if it’ll drag on as long as it did last time. I don’t think we’ll see anything close to as bad as the violence from last May but you never know. For now, just know that I’m safe and having fun in Chiang Mai for the next several days.

Happy New Year!

much love,

Friday, March 11, 2011

Alumni Affairs

Clark University, my alma mater, has appointed a new president. Part of the first-year president’s job must be to travel the world and meet the alumni scattered across the globe because he’s coming here tonight. There’s gonna be a banquet and some mingling which should be nice. Actually Clark has held functions here before. About a year and a half ago one of my old professors came to give a lecture on the future of China and I got a chance to meet the Clark alums in the BKK area. I was excited to go then thinking I might meet someone I recognized from my time in Worcester but I was mistaken. I must’ve been the only one who graduated after 2000 and was for sure the only farang. This time, knowing what I know now, I’m gonna see if I can rub shoulders with some of my fellow alums and see if there's any job opportunities cooking. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching. It’s fun and rewarding it’s just not something I want to do forever. So we’ll see what’s what tonight and if there’re any opportunities out there for me. I’m going straight there from work so I’m gonna have to wear my nice pants all day. No problem. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Much love

ps Clark University was able to reach me through the mail which means that there’s no conspiracy to withhold my mail as I previously assumed. If anyone out there sent anything my way earlier, I’m very sorry but it didn’t make it. Thanks so much for the consideration! xoxo

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Koh Larn

The trip to Koh Larn was great. I had been there once before but forgot just how little of the island I saw. The first time (back while still at Languagecorps) my group went over on the morning ferry, hung out and swam for a few, then left in the afternoon. That's pretty much the M.O. for everyone who goes to Koh Larn which is why it was so neat to spend the night there. Despite being right across from Pattaya harbor(mega-farang destination) there were no overnight tourists. I don't think I saw another non-thai person on the island after the last ferry left. Dinner that night was at the hotel restaurant on the beach with a nice sea breeze blowing in. We were digging the fresh seafood. Day two was a lot like day one: motorbiking around the island, swimming around in some crystal blue water and some lazy lazy relaxing. We caught the last ferry off the island and were back in the city by dinner time. Not a bad place to get away to. At all. Koh Larn has definitely jumped Koh Samet as my weekend get-away spot and I look forward to going back soon.

That's about all for now. My Dad flies in tonight from India. He's out exploring the world again and his trip leads him back to my neck of the woods. Not too much planned for his visit but it'll be really good to see him.

much love

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chinese New Year

Well it's Chinese New Year again. Technically today is the day it switches over (to rabbit, I believe) but the Thai people got things going early with some nice firework displays last night. I really want to get down to Chinatown tonight to see the festivities but I have to work till late. Traffic is always terrible no matter what, so I can only imagine what it'll be like. A lot of my students (and a majority of the upper-class Thai) are Chinese-Thai so it'll be interesting to see who shows up and who doesn't. That's really all the news from here. I'm sorry I haven't been writing more. Ryan's here for a few more days before he goes on his trip up into Isan province and eventually over to Northern Vietnam. I think there will be a temporary-farewell dinner for him this Sunday which should be fun. Then on Monday I'm heading to Koh Larn with Songtai for a quick vacation out of the city. There's even a chance I could watch some of the Superbowl like I did a couple years ago, but I think we're leaving pretty early Monday morning. This trip will be great because I'm dying to swim in some salt water and see some stars at night. I'll let you know how it goes!

Much Love

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recent Days

The wireless internet at work died early last week. I haven't been very connected but that hasn't stopped me from doing stuff around the city. My buddy and former roommate Ryan arrived in Bangkok last Tuesday which is great. He's gonna be here for a few months traveling around but has set up base camp at the Villa Suanphlu. He started taking private Thai lessons which has really reenergized me into learning more. My girlfriend speaks better English than I do so when we speak Thai it's more of a novelty and I haven't made much progress recently. Now I'm slowly learning more and more vocab. My favorite new word is mang moom. It means spider and literally translates as "corner bug". Ryan's school where he learns is a pretty groovy bunch and last night they organized a bowling night for everyone. My bowling experience in America is pretty much limited to dilapidated candlepin lanes so it's always strange when the place is part bowling alley and part wild rave club. When I think of a night of bowling, black lights and booming bass are not what immediately jumps to mind. That said, it was very fun and I look forward to hanging out with that group again some day. Maybe even lessons of my own..? We'll see. For now I can get better acquainted with my Thai for Intermediate Readers book. I sure have enough down time at work with that wireless router still out.

Much love,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Well I'm back after a nice nine-day break. I decided to stay in the city for the holidays rather than leave for a beach or jungle but it turns out it was the city that left around me. New Year's (and really most holidays) are a big time to be together with family so a lot of Bangkok's citizens return home. This meant that all of my favorite food vendors were closed at one time or another leaving me to survive on large chain restaurants instead (pizza company). This also meant that my go-to internet cafe was closed which is why i've been incommunicado for the past week. I didn't do a whole lot with my days off. Spent most of them catching up on my reading and lounging by the pool. New Year's Eve was fun though. Andrew, Vanessa, Songtai, and myself were debating about whether to go to Siam Square countdown (the Times Square equivalent) or to the Suanlum Night Bazaar where I had gone a couple years before. Well the Siam idea was quashed as being way too crowded and the Bazaar was being bulldozed to make way for a new mall (bummer) so we decided to go to the little blues bar we love so much. It was really jumping. We could just barely fit in the door. We stayed there and did our own mini-countdown and then made our way to Khao San road where we played some pool and danced a bit. Songtai had to work the next day (1pm) so we didn't stay out too too late. The rest of my time was pretty low-key. My New Year's Res is pretty much just to take better care of myself so I've been going to the gym and I even bought another basketball. I went down to the courts last Tuesday to play in the weekly pick-up games. It's a lot of fun, but running around in the Bangkok air tires you out very quickly. Hope everyone had an awesome new year! Let's make it a good one!!

much love

ps. Happy 100th post! Here's to 100 more!