Sunday, November 30, 2008

Moustachio Bashio

Had a good weekend. One of the highlights came at a Belgian beerhouse when a guy asked our table to help judge a moustache competition. It was a group of ex-pats, and the moustaches were somehow related to raising money for prostate cancer.

I was pretty psyched since I do love a good moustache...

... but sadly none of them were actually that good.. turns out I have high standards for facial hair?

In other news, today was one of my favorite kind of Sundays seeing as it involved really yummy brunch food, laying by the pool, a nap, and tv watching. So good.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Mine was spent with a really nice mix of people, 2 turkeys, plenty of stuffing, 10 pounds of mashed potatoes, and Cuban cigars. More than enough to give thanks for.

Also - the aiports are still closed, but the city still feels very safe.

Love to you all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Two Month Anniversary

Bangkok and I have now been seeing each other for two months. To celebrate this landmark in our relationship I'm going to go and see House Bunny with a friend, and stay away from the demonstrations...

You might be hearing about the protests in Bangkok.. If not... there were four explosions at Bangkok's two big airports this morning, and thousands of protesters there yesterday. Anti-government protesters don't want to let the Prime Minister back into the country.

Thousands of protesters have also been gathering near the Parliament building.. so we'll see what happens. There was a bloodless coup in 2006 -- the military stepped in and forced the former Prime Minister out of power. Currently they are saying they will not do that again.

I feel safe though, and have enough people keeping me up to date about when not to worry - so I'm not sure they'll tell me when I should worry.

Love to you all,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ko Samed; Koh Samet

One fun thing about English in Thailand is that there are often no "correct" spellings for the names of places. Koh Samet (Ko Samed) - the island where I went this past weekend - falls into this category.

However you want to spell it, the island was great, close to Bangkok, and the weekend didn't cost too much more than staying in the city.

The bus out there was about 3 hours, and then there was an hour-long ferry ride. The ferry had beach chairs for seats.

I went with four other folks - and they were all really nice. Everyone was just very ready to sit on the beach, read, and breathe in some cleaner air.

The island wasn't too busy, but wasn't desolate either. Had some really good spicy papaya salad and really had to try hard not to pet the very cute, homeless beach-dogs.

Here are some pics of the fishing village near where the ferry dropped us off on the mainland, the group I went with, and the beach:

I think I'll try to make a beach-trip about once a month while I'm here..

Alright. Bedtime.

Love to you all!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bangkok: low bike theft rate?

This beauty was hanging out lock-free yesterday morning on my street:


In other news - getting packed for the weekend on Koh Samet, and happy to see the ocean and some trees.

Love to you all!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where I'm Working

So here's a pic of the courtyard where the students meet every morning to sing, pray, and I guess talk about other things.. but it all happens in Thai, so.. you know..

I'm supposed to get to school at 7:45 - but I'm realizing that I really have to try to get there closer 7:30. Turns out that every time the girls do the following things in the courtyard you have to stop and wait:

a) pray. This is an easy one to detect and stop to wait for because they hold their hands in a praying position.
b) sing the school anthem. I can now recognize this song, and remember to stop.
c) sing the Royal Anthem. This is an important one to stop for, but for some reason I've forgotten more than once. Not good.

Some mornings they also have aerobics. About 10 girls go on stage in full-on neon spandex. This is one thing I don't have to stop for - but it's too funny/bright not to. If I wasn't concerned they'd think I were some sort of pedofile I'd document it for you.. but, yeah.. it's pretty priceless.

Aerobics aside, I'm going to try to get there at 7:30 so that I don't have to play red-light, green-light with their morning activities/ possibly offend a few hundred Thai schoolchildren.

Much love,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Other Places; Bangkok

Soon I will be settled enough for some letter-writing.

Once that happens I'll get to drop things in the box on the left.. unless any of you are considering moving to Bangkok?

Love to you all!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bamboo Ladders

I've witnessed a good bit of wire-hanging that seems to happen on the streets of Bangkok - and usually bamboo ladders seem to be involved.

I think I just love the combination of someone's bamboo ladder leading to someone else's high-speed internet or 750 tv channels.

Love to you all!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend in Review

The internet at my apartment wasn't working this weekend (which is not an easy thing for me, come to find out) -- and so here are some highlights from a couple of pretty mellow days::

#1. Food by Phone:

Not to lead off too strong after saying my weekend was low-key, but Food by Phone might have changed my life.

365 days a year from 10:30am to 10:30pm you can have food delivered to you within one hour from over 80 restaurants. This has honestly blown my mind. I realize this is probably common in all metropolitan areas.. but it's new to me.. and it's amazing.

On Saturday I ordered a mushroom quesadilla, brownie, and diet coke from a Mexican restaurant that I like, and having it appear at my doorstep was basically like magic. They also deliver wine, beer, magazines, and dvds. Delivery costs about $3.

#2. Khlong boats:

Bangkok has canals going through it (khlongs), and there are khlong boats used as public transport that I used for the first time this weekend.

I was proud of myself when I used the taxis on the river for the first time -- and the khlong taxis are even more confusing/intimidating since there's really no English signage - and often not even any Thai signage for me to puzzle at.

The drivers also don't always slow all the way down to let people on & off, and the people collecting money wear helmets - making this probably the best form of transport in town.

#3. Koh Samet

This is actually my big news for the week.. I'm planning on going to Koh Samet -- an island that I'm told is really pretty -- with some folks next weekend, and so obviously I'm reallyreally excited about that.

Alright -- I'm happy to have the internet again, and I hope everyone's weeks are starting out well (..and that all of your food-delivery dreams also come true).


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Unit 7: At the Food Court

So today I gave my first test on Unit 7: At the Food Court.

The unit has been a blast, but I'm sure Unit 8: At the Supermarket will be just as thrilling.

The test-giving was pretty uneventful, but I did realize something very cute during the art-time afterwards :: a lot of 6 year-olds sing to themselves while coloring.

.. in other news I realized today that I've got out every night this week do things with people.. so I'm excited for another lazy weekend starting at 3:30 domani.

Love to you all!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Loi Krathong

Just got back from dinner at a really great restaurant on the river that goes through Bangkok - the Chao Phraya - across from one of the most famous temples in the city - Wat Arun. Wat Arun is on all of the 10 baht coins.

Tonight was the night to have dinner on the river because it is the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai calendar - which means it's Loi Krathong.

I'm not about to do justice explaining the holiday, but "Loi" means "to float" and a "Krathong" is a small (6-12 inches across?) floating circle made out of banana leaves and flowers.

You put candles and incense in the Krathong, and then float it down the river. The Krathong is supposed to represent your anger/ bad things - and so you also cut off some fingernails and add some of your hair to the Krathong before shipping it off so that you're physically sending off something of yourself.

Along the river there were also bus-sized barges that were decorated with all sorts of lights and had music going -- kind of like a veryvery toned down Mardi Gras on a river with no beads or booze -- but very festive and surprising/ pretty to see.

At school today they kept coming in and pulling out girls to go and work on their classes' Krathong, and then some of the girls walked down to the khlong (canal) at the end of the school's road to set them down the river.

I was also told by one of the teacher's that the Krathong are an apology to the river god for pollution (there's a strong Hindu influence somewhere in this holiday) -- but since some people use styrofoam to make theirs it might not be the river god's favorite offering?

So here's Wat Arun with a passing barge, some Krathongs, and then me getting help lowering my Krathong into the river:

Please feel free to fact-check/ correct me!

Love to you all!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hostess with... at least something to offer.

So I haven't exactly reached "Mostess" status yet -- but yesterday was my first attempt at playing tour-guide here in Bangkok, and it wasn't a total bust.

A friend from Emory came through Bangkok just for the night, and so we went to dinner at a place I like near my apartment and then to the Suan Lum Night Bazaar.

Since I'd never actually been to the night bazaar I didn't know what exactly to expect -- but was psyched to find a beer garden that was about 200 yards x 50 yards, and had a huge stage that had a rotating cast of about 5 singers who all sang with the same back-up band.

The outfits were pretty amazing: one of the guys was going for a Thai Chuck Bass (Gossip Girl character. obvs), one of the girls had a fur lined jacket on ("winter" is approaching), and one of the girls had some sort of western theme she was working with. While they were singing there was also a 10 foot screen behind them playing soccer matches. It was pretty delightful.

I couldn't talk Rob into buying anything besides DVDs - but he did well for himself bartering.

I didn't take any pics, but here are a couple courtesy of other folks:

By the time all of you visit I should be a pro. Don't worry.

love to you all!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Cup of the Familiar

Today I found some Sleepytime tea. love that.

Hope everyone is having good weekends!


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Exciting Realization

First of all, I would like to share that I am not the only person on my street having a slow-paced weekend. I caught this guy snoozing down my road:


Also - I realize that I have not posted many pictures of my face on this here blog. I still haven't learned to say "Can you take my picture" in Thai, and am apparently not used to saying it in English.. working on it.

So here's me, and please pay special attention to this dress (and pardon the red-eye):

.. I bought this dress last year for maybe $15, and for some reason it is one of my absolute favorite items of clothing. With all the hubbub getting used to it here I had not worn it yet and realized that it was - in fact - the perfect dress for this climate.

For the past two summers every time I put it on (which seemed like basically every weekend when going to the beach) I would think to myself.. wow... I really wish I had this dress in about 5 different colors.

And then this morning I realized..(drum roll...) I can!

A lot of the expat women here are very into having tailor-made clothing here because it's reasonably priced, and sometimes hard to find clothes for Western body types.

So now I'm on a fabric hunt to try to make a couple of copies of this dress. funfun.

Love you all!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Weekend Plans

This weekend I'll be doing as little as possible. Some reading. Some movie-watching. Maaayyybe some printing out photos to put around my room. No promises. I'm spent.. so lazy it is.

Love to you all!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

DJ Shadow was awesome/ still really glad to be an American.

So the DJ Shadow show was great. Really fun, really loud, really a lot of music I had never heard before. I guess he was only playing beats he had made himself, and then all of these old funk vinyl albums. So whereas usually he has like 8 turntables up with him - he only had 2. If it sounds like I know what I'm talking about.. I'm misleading you.. he said all that at the beginning of his set. (After leading a "Yes we did!" chant -- so I did end up being around a ton of people screaming for Obama afterall!)

Vying closely with the music for the evening's entertainment however, was the fact that this was my first brush with the intense Thai hipster scene. This may just be a knee-jerk reaction, but I have to say that from the outset Thai hipsters tend to look way cooler than American hipsters.

I don't know if it's because I don't recognize the look of Thai angst the way that I recognize American angst -- so that on the whole they tend to look a good bit happier -- or if it's the fact that they look better in bright colors... but take for example the girl on the far right:

flannel and Malcolm X glasses. nice.

This photo is also courtesy of a "bangkok lifestyle" website that posted a picture of a friend of mine last night and the somehow managed to let her know they had done so this morning. I haven't figured out how they did that yet - but I was also very impressed by that.

Alright, bedtime. Love to you all! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Damn it feels good to be American

I've always been very proud to be an American --- but never this proud.

I've never considered putting an American flag in my room - but I might.

I'm just so proud of the American people for moving forward, demanding change, and creating history. Absolutely thrilling.

When I went outside the campus to jump up and down, cry a little etc (I got in trouble for being too outspoken earlier this week.. I'm learning..) a couple of guys came over to see if they couldn't sell me a motorbike ride and/or check if I was having a total meltdown.

I told them that Barack Obama had just been declared the next president of the America. They looked bored - said they figured this would happen - and double-checked to see if I might want a ride.. "only 10 baht?"

It might not have been thousands of people screaming and crying together - but I was at least glad that they assumed Americans would put Obama in office.

What an amazing moment for America, and what a wonderful opportunity for progress, hard work, and growth. yeahyeahyeahyeah!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Melbourne Cup/ Voting

So Americans are starting to head to the polls right now - it will be around noon here tomorrow when all of the results are in - and to ease the tension, I'm just getting back from a Melbourne Cup after-party.

The Melbourne Cup is an Australian Horse race that is only about 2-3 minutes long -- but the parties for it are all day events.

There were about 60 tables at the party that filtered into this bar -- and each table decides on their own theme -- hence the pirates & Greek goddess outfits:

Since all of the folks at the party had been drinking since 10am - nobody really wanted to talk politics, so it was actually a pretty politically-calming place to be.

And now it's bedtime -- happy voting to everyone!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Positive Posts Only

So today is the first day that I would really like to write about an experience that was difficult here in Thailand - partly because of cultural differences, and partly because sometimes things are just difficult - but.. since this is the world wide web -- I will not.

Instead I will post this sweet picture of a pumpkin..

..and let you guys know that I had a very good weekend (really. not just blowing around sunshine because I'm realizing I can't be too critical on here.)

Dressed up as a witch and went to a pub with another American, a couple of awesome Danish girls and a few Israeli guys. We also met up with a really cool Irish girl and her Canadian boyfriend -- it was kind of like a very festively dressed mini-UN.

Saturday night a friend of mine and I went and bought tickets to go see DJ Shadow -- which is really exciting -- and we walked around Khao San Road for the first time -- which gave me insight into why backpackers usually aren't too impressed with Bangkok.

Dad also got me these sweet lamps --

which are a huge quality of life improvement - and so now I no longer feel like I am going to wilt under flourescent lights. Which is great.

Send me updates on your Halloweens, and I hope things are good with everyone!


(and really.. all that being positive did actually make me feel better - go figure.)