Sunday, August 27, 2006

Did you know that Errol Flynn was Australian?

Yes, Robin Hood himself was an Antipodean. I was as suprised as you probably are right now upon learning this fact.

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...

1 comment:

Allergic Girl said...

this is from HARRICE: "fascinating blog, please write more!"