Sunday, August 27, 2006
Why exactly am I writing about Mr. Flynn whilst in the middle of the Thai tropics, you ask? Well, one of the greatest joys of holiday is the ability to do absolutely nothing and not feel an ounce of guilt. And while I have been filling my holiday with quite a number of interesting things (kayaking, SCUBA, mountain biking, cooking classes etc...) I've also spent countless hours pool side or in a coffee shop simply enjoying a good book. It was in Bill Bryson's book 'Down Under' that I picked up the little tidbit about the dashing man in green tights.
Now, back to Thailand and things a bit less colonial. After 8 days on the tropical island of Koh Samui, I am now in the northern city of Chiang Mai. In the last two days alone I think I've visited at least a dozen Buddhist Wats (Temples). A buddhist temple is a bit like an old church or museum in western Europe. Once you've seen one, you've kinda seen them all. I'm not trying to be sarcastic in any sort of way. Nor do I want to dimish the spiritual significance of the temples or to the churches of Europe but really I've never much found "houses of worship" to be all that interesting. This may sound a bit weird coming from a person who considers herself to be deeply spiritual and faith driven. Maybe it's all the yogic philosophy I've ingested over the years but for whatever reason I don't really attach spirituality to any space or figure or representation. Spirituality can be found anywhere...in a forest glade, floating in the ocean, praying in a church. For me, the most interesting sacred space lives inside the person, not a space, no matter how much gold is used to spruce up the place.
I've decided that Chiang Mai have 6 types of retail spaces - tourist offices offering every sort of trek, elephant ride, mountain biking excursion, and whitewater rafting experience an adventure oriented person could want, resturants catering to both Thai and Continental taste buds, craft shops selling authentic tchochkies crafted by "REAL HILL TOP TRIBES!", tailors who will make you two whole suits for only $200, massage parlors, and auto mechanic shops. Now, don't get me wrong, I fully appreciate why the economy is tilted in this manner. In a country that is rapidly trying to join the economic ranks of China, Japan, Korea, and Singapore, one must jump upon an opportunity when they see one. And what better opportunity than the swarms of white tourists milling about with their big bottles of distilled water and wearing flip flops that they probably paid $30 dollars (or more) for in their home country. Thailand is a land of immense opportunity and thus a lot of opportunitic behaviour. Someone is quickly becoming a billionare in this country and if it ain't you then it's probably the person down the street. That's what happens in a country with few set rules for success.
On a more sociological perspective, I think I'm confusing everyone in Thailand. The Thai's don't know what to make of me. The question I get most frequently is "What are you?" or "Where are you from?" Many have commented on the fact that I look kinda Asian but I clearly don't act Asian. I don't think they're quite used to seeing westernized Asians. Many have commented on the fact that I look bi-racial. I don't think I do at all - I only ever get this comment when I travel to Asia. I really may be the whitest asian girl in the world. On the flip side, I'm quite tan right now (spf 50 has nothing on the Thai sun) and many of the European tourists (men) think I'm a local female (albeit rather tall and big for a thai woman). I've had the rudest, most crass comments directed towards me. I'm assuming these European men are under the notion that I won't entirely understand them but that I'll be aglow with excitement from getting any sort of attention from the rich white men. I wish I could take a picture of them as I open my mouth to respond in my VERY American accent. Oh how silly and stupid they must feel. Well, I'm assuming they feel silly and stupid. One hopes that they realize their behavior really isn't acceptable in any culture.
Over and out for now. I'll be in Bangkok in a few short days. Lets see if that song from the early 80s is true...
Saturday, August 19, 2006
My instrustor is a total Austraialian cutie. Why does it seem that all scuba, ski, and other adventure sport instructors are cute? Is that a prerequistie? Is appearance a qualifier for certification? In any case, Sean the instructor is the classic case of a very bad boy who is trying to turn his life around. He is quite the chatty fellow and in the few hours I've known him I've picked up several things about him. 1) He comes from a very wealthy family, 2) He used to be a former architect and interior designer (he swears up and down that he is not gay), 3) He had gotten into a bit of trouble in his previous life - mostly alcohol and drug influenced I gather, 4) Scuba instruction is a means for him to clear his head and his lifestyle - he's given up drinking for the time being and is currently a veggie.
Isn't it funny how people who have lived toxic lives adopt extrodinarily asectic habits when they try to turn themselves around? Sean is not the first person to utilize this strategy and I'm sure he's not the last. LOL. I'm also guessing that Sean is not the only Ex-pat here in thailand that is trying to run away from something.
Thailand is an interesting country. It's a country caught somewhere between 21st century modernity and third world poverty. Everyone seemingly has a mobile phone and one can find any number of Unilever consumer pacakged goods at the local tin hut. However, drive a bit and you will eventually drive by little shanty towns. I was reading an Economist article on the flight over and it was discussing the economical transformation that has taken place in Vietnam. In the article I learned that about a third of Thailand's population still lives on less than a dollar a day. This is of course a huge improvement from over 50% just a decade ago. Makes me wonder when I marvel at the delicious Pad Thai that I've consuming on a near daily basis that only costs about $2.25.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Basically things break down like this. All times are in EST.
Monday 10pm - Take off from Newark
11pm - Actually take off from Newark after some weird delay
Tuesday 6:30am - Land in Stockholm, Sweden
6:30am - 8:15am - Sit in Arlanda airport waiting for plan to be refueled etc...
8:15am - 7:00pm - Leave Stockholm, fly over the entire world and finally land in Malaysia
7:00pm - 10:00pm - Walk around KL Airport waiting for connecting flight to Bangkok
10pm - Take off from KL
10pm - 12:05 am - Fly to and land in Bangkok
Wednesday 12:05 - 1:20am - Wander around Bangkok airport, get lost, eat ice cream, get oriented
1:20am - 2:30am - Fly to Koh Samui
2:30am - 3:30am - Drive to bungalow where I will be staying
3:31am - Collapse
3:35am - Go to pool
That's a lot of travelling I tell ya!
Many observations thus far but the biggest one is this, finding the "spiritual" side of Thailand will be a challenge. It's here, you can feel it, but it's hidden behind the HUGE wall of tourism that permeates seemingly everything. I think I'm saved in that I'm Asian and people can't automatically assume I'm a tourist. I could easily be a Malaysian business women. But then I open my mouth and out spouts the good old American English.
I'm going to try and avoid most of the more touristy trappings...by that I mean the cheap "handmade" village jewelry that gets hawked at every road side petrol station and food stand. My goals are as follows: back, swim in the ocean, practice some yoga, get lots of Thai massages, maybe take a class on Thai massage, take a cooking class, get SCUBA certified, and maybe get a tailor to replicate my favorite summer dress a couple of times.
I'm gonna have dinner soon and then probably collapse for awhile.
Cheers for now.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The KL airport is impressive, if not a bit amusing. Kinda looks like a pseudo-high end European wanna-be mall. The people here are also interesting. Will write more once I'm settled on Koh Samui.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Going forward, whenever scary Dicky disappears, I'm hoarding bottled water, duct tape, and granola.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
I woke up on Monday morning with the most horrible pain in my right hip...turns out I have bursitis. And for those who haven't had bursitis...IT SUCKS! Tha pain in my right hip is currently hovering somewhere between a dull ache to the occassional stabbing bolt of pain that make me want to crumble to the floor.
I'm going to see my Orthopedic Surgeon this Thursday (again!) and have him check it out. I'm going to try and convince him to give me a cortisone shot into my right hip to make the inflammation go away before I leave for Thailand. Doesn't that sound scary? Getting a shot directly into a joint! Bleech.
I tell you...this summer has not been a good health summer for me. Dislocating ankles, mysterious breathing problems, and now bursitis! Ack!
And to top it all off, I found two new grey hairs. They are multiplying I tell ya!
The boy isn't making matters any easier, either. At 45, he keeps reminding me that things are only going to get creakier and creakier. Damnit, I refuse to accept that. Other than the bursitis, I don't think any of my other ailments are due to old age...everyone is susceptible to mystery viruses that decide to take refuge in the back of ones throat. Right?
Monday, August 07, 2006
It kinda sucks to be a guy these days, if we can judge by the New York Times.
1. Articles about men who are unemployed, unattached or marginally employed and unmarriable.
2. Articles about how Wall Street is trying to retain more women.
3. Florida passes "Stand Your Ground" law which allows more use of deadly force in "self defense."
4. War in the middle east.
I give up. Guys should just give up, let women do all the work and concentrate on playing cards and getting laid. It seems men are just not fit to run societies.
Yours in Sympathy,
Eeeh...I'm not so sure a woman dominated world would be much better. Have you seen the movie 'Mean Girls'? Yeah, we should probably avoid that scenario as well.