Tourist Thailand

Peace Corps Volunteers see a side to Thailand that few non-Thais see. Thailand is known to the western world for its beautiful beaches, the somewhat risqué Bangkok nightlife, and the mountain views in Chiang Mai. Most of my posts are not about those things because that’s not what my life is usually like here. This next series of posts, ‘Tourist Thailand,’ however, will be about just that. This set of blogs will be more useful to the average visitor to Thailand because that’s what I got to be for a little while. It was marvelous.

I blended well enough with the other foreigners and could get boatloads of western food for once, but I could use my particular set of Thai skills to be set apart (and reap the benefits) when I so chose. Again, it was marvelous. Thais who are farang-weary love a Thai speaking one, even if it was the simplest of things I said.  So this is my official ‘try to learn a little of the local language’ bit and you’ll find your travel experience improving. In Thailand, I would guarantee it.

So here’s looking ahead so you can expect what’s coming and the things I’ll be covering:
Bangkok
Khao Yai
Chiang Rai
Chiang Mai
Kanchanaburi
Sangklaburi

A cultural and general things I think are valuable to know will also be attached somewhere in the series.  The first half will also have Saturday videos to accompany them.

And if you think I let my Mom off easy and just let her be a tourist, think again.

Yeah, she's badass

Yeah, she’s badass

10 Foods We Can’t Wait For

A fellow PC Thailand blog, Sprinkles in Thailand, posted this ‘salute to our gastronomical brethren overseas we offer this: The Top Ten Things We Want to Eat When We Get Home.’ They are a married couple and though Jeff Jackson and I are not, sometimes it feels like it. Upon Jeff’s suggestion, we’re teaming up for another post together (remember that Walmart one?) for our respective food and drink lists we daydream, drool, and talk about. As with Morgan and Dan’s blog, we came up with these separately and then mashed them together for rainbows, sparkles, and unicorns.

Since I can’t seem to figure out how to make columns in WordPress, Jeff is in bold, I’m in italics.

J: Bratwurst with Silver Spring mustard

E: Cheeseburger from the Aspinwall Grille

My pancakes with real salted butter and Aunt Jemima syrup

Pizza, preferably from Milanos in the downtown branch

Papa Murphy’s pizza hot out of the oven

 

Breadsticks from the place I don’t know the name of, but call ‘the breadsticks place’

A baked potato with butter, pepper, Lawry’s and more butter

French Onion Soup (One each from Panera Bread and Max & Erma’s for Saturday lunch with my Mom)

Three scrambled eggs, quality & healthy wheat toast (with butter) and half a pound of bacon, three strips mixed in with the eggs with the greased used to lubricate the pan and flavor the eggs

Pasta… Cheese Tortellini, Chicken Alfredo, Lasagna, Spaghetti with meat sauce, real meatballs

A bowl of Corn Chex (with 2% milk) lightly sprinkled with sugar

Fruit not from Thailand: green apples, strawberries, seedless green grapes and oranges

Jimmy John’s No. 9 sub sandwich – I’ve forgotten what it is, but I know No. 9 = delicious 

Homemade mac and cheese

Mom’s homemade lasagna

French fries and to dip into a vanilla milkshake, preferably at King’s

Raspberries

Grilled chicken on a Cesar salad

Hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven, peanut butter cookies

The homemade creation titled ‘Greek shit’ on a cold Fall day

Just reading the list reminds me of more things I’d like to add to it. Stay tuned for the drinks version!

Tuesday Travel Photo

Usually I try to avoid TTPs with people included in them. After recently stumbling upon Expat Kerri’s youtube channel and then blog, I felt how could I not include her in this week’s photo? A fellow North American (Canadian) bitten by the long-term travel bug, Kerri usually makes her home in South Korea teaching English.

But this photo was most definitely not taken in South Korea, more like South America where my new favorite travel blogger is currently wanderlusting around the continent. Being a Peace Corps Volunteer has slowed down my cross-continent traveling, but Kerri reminded me this is a way of life (for life) and there is no need to rush. She’s become one of my must read bloggers and an inspiration to continue learning, expanding my boundaries, and see more of the world.

And she takes pretty fantastic pictures too.                                                                                                          Photo from (of course): http://www.expatkerri.com/search?updated-max=2012-08-27T07:30:00-07:00&max-results=7

Yeah, I think I have a little bit of a blogcrush. And girlcrush. And lifecrush.

Funniest and Most Realistic PC Tumblr

This is getting passed around PC Thailand and cause some serious laugh out louds. You want to know what it’s like as a Volunteer click it. You know you want to.

http://whatshouldpcvscallme.tumblr.com/

If you get there, I’m at Stage 3 and trying to laugh myself silly out of it. This helped.

Small Accomplishments

This is more of a personal accomplishment rather than one in my community, but I’m proud nonetheless. Remember this little New Year’s resolution about keeping up in my journal, one page a day? Well, I kept it (mostly, I only missed three days, I think, this year so far) and I’ve done something I’ve never done before.

My first PC journal

I’m sort of a notebook nerd. Back to school sales and school shopping is my favorite time of year (despite having graduated from academia three years ago). I’ve never been able to finish an entire notebook full of journaling before my eye has caught the eye of another. The problem was, I would go on a burst of writing, going for two or three weeks of solid chronicling before something coming up and I would go for months without an entry. Later I would start afresh with a new notebook, promising myself to get through this one.

I’m happy to say that I’ve broken my bad habit by expecting a new one from myself. Now I’ve filled not just one, but two entire notebooks of my thoughts, frustrations, doodles, and dreams. It’s amazing to see time and my growth as a person in such a literal way, as pages in my journal. I find myself remembering things better and having it on paper when I can’t. Going through the last twenty months made me shake my head, laugh out loud, and realize how far I’ve come on this crazy journey in Peace Corps Thailand. I’m really glad to have recorded it thus far, both in print and with this blog. It forces me to realize how important writing is to me as a person and for other people to write down their own story to share.

First two full already, on to #3!

I’m starting my third journal now and I’m considering upping myself to two pages of day, but worry about slipping into a quantity over quality of my entries. I worried about that with my one page goal and while I’m sure there were some days that didn’t need to be recorded (ex. man I hate doing laundry by hand, I can’t wait for cheese to be in my daily life again), but I think the positives outweigh the negatives. I hope one day to publish something, anything and see my name in print. Practice makes perfect right?

Friday Five

Five ‘Interesting’ Cultural Traits in Thailand You Wish Your Country Had
I borrowed this one from my friend and fellow PCV Lacey Shoemaker’s blog. I came down with a case of the giggles while reading and borrowed my favorite five of the eight she listed in her original blog. I’ll let her take it from here.

I didn’t know what to call the next list so I came up with an alternative title “8 Interesting cultural norms in Thailand” or “8 Things I like to do here but won’t be able to when I return to the States for fear of widespread social isolation from friends and family, possibly the rest of the American public.” (See what I mean? Giggles) I’ll let you decide which one I should go with. Also, let it be noted that these aren’t exclusive to Thailand.

Being a child lasts until you are 25(ish) (Truth)
At first I thought people were treating me like a child because I’m a farang (foreigner) and new to the country. Then I found out it is because of that and also the fact that I am under 30 years old. No joke. I asked when a person is considered an adult in Thailand and the answer was 25-30 years old. This explains why I get food/money/rides offered to me constantly. If I don’t eat much I get brought something else in the hopes that I will like that better. If I don’t eat that, I get asked if I need to go see the doctor. There are some times when this is great but it takes me back to the awkward, teenage, rebelliousness phase of life. Choosing not to do things they way people tell me to because I want to (and can) do it differently. This is just because I’m so familiar with an independent lifestyle and Thai ‘youth’ are familiar with being taken care of in a close-knit community setting. Having college paid for in-full and pants with pocket-money is considered the norm. Thais take care of their kin in a nice rotation of age and responsibility. Plus it’s funny to see their faces when they find out I can cook for myself. And not just Top Ramen.
Talking in the third person (I know I’ll do this when I get back)
So for this one Lacey thinks of Tarzan. Why yes! Lacey likes fruit! There are many languages out there that have used this type of grammar and it is interesting here in Thailand. Thai has many forms of the word ‘I’ and Lacey thinks Lacey has counted at least five different ways to say it. Lacey has also seen ways to use those different forms based on who you are talking with and the setting. With Lacey’s close friends, for example, Lacey says ‘Lacey’ instead of the more formal ‘Dii Chan’ (sounds like dee-chon). Lacey thinks this is a very interesting trait of Thais but Lacey hopes Lacey can get it out of her system before she comes home. Lacey hopes that this wasn’t too confusing for everyone because I (Lacey) am pretty sure I am at this point.
Having a ‘Color-A-Day’
Having trouble deciding what to wear today? Do you know what day of the week it is? No problem. This makes it incredibly easy to get dressed each day because certain colors coordinate with the days of the week. Just throw on the right polo shirt and you’re set. No standing in front of your dresser starting at clothes. No trying on multiple outfits to find “the one.” Just look at the calendar, coordinate the color, and you day is ready to go. And if folks are really into this tradition they even do their underwear. Or so I’m told.Sunday-Red
Monday- Yellow
Tuesday- Pink
Wednesday- Green
Thursday- Orange
Friday- Blue
Saturday- Purple

Using the weather as an excuse for anything and everything
I had a friend from the States recently say to me “Man, it’s such a good day outside here but it must be awesome all the time in Thailand.” To set the record straight: No. (Tee-hee) Granted it is generally nice but it does get very hot some days. (More like most days) And the hot days are often followed by heavy rains which is preferable for most. A good, sunny day also means carrying around umbrellas while riding motorcycles or standing/working in the shade so your skin doesn’t turn “black.” I sometimes get dragged out of the sun so my skin doesn’t turn “ugly” and tan. It is now the rainy season which means that there is an abundance of precipitation. The rain comes in waves (sometimes literally) so Thais will wait for it to stop before adventuring outside to carry on with their day. On a more personal level, the Thais fear for my health. When it starts to rain they believe I will get sick which in all fairness could happen. And when they aren’t worrying about my immune system they are worried I will crash my bike which, again, could happen. Coming from Washington State, it’s difficult for me to understand why daily activities can be hindered from a little ran. But again, different climate = different culture. So weather it’s hot or cold (see what I did there?)(oh, I most definitely did), the climate plays into everyday living just as in other parts of the world. Now I just need to get used to holding an umbrella. (I take the Thai way on this and stay inside until the rain stops, delaying sometimes for hours)

Picking your nose in public
Ok. So I’ve never done this here (yet) but it is on my ‘To Do’ list. (Lacey, not ladylike) Many volunteers were first engrossed and just plain grossed when we first noticed people doing this. One moment you are telling someone about your job as a volunteer and what you find most appealing about their culture then the next you find yourself staring at a hand that use to have 5 fingers but lost one because their index become greedy and wanted to dig for gold. (Insert corny joke about ring finger wanting a cut). Soon after discovering this was acceptable, the boys in our group felt that this was a norm that they could easily conform to. It’s all about assimilation here, people. The nice thing about this norm is that it carriers over many demographics. There is no age, gender, or other basis for discrimination. It’s not uncommon to see children wiping their fingers on their clothes or seeing them give their nose a nice rub on the shirt of an unsuspecting adult; not unlike in the States. Nothing shameful stands in the way between a person and their sniffer.
Check out Lacey’s blog with the most recent posting about the practical uses of roosters/chickens. I’ll give you a hint, Lacey (and I) are not fans.

Some Schedule Notifications

Tomorrow night I’m heading out to Bangkok for our Mid-Service Conference (what up hot showers and air-conditioningggggg). Not having left site for two months now, I’m really looking forward to this. Farang food, pizza, and cheese. Oh my.

I’ll be there for motivating things, project ideas, emotional connection, hugs, and doctors appointments until Friday, going to visit Pi-Chaai and the gang for the weekend before coming home for a few days. Then the following Friday, I’m taking off for the northern Thailand extravaganza with Jeffrey for elevenish days. Busy little bee eh?

I am planning on keeping up with posting, but it’s going to be all pre-scheduled blogs and a bit dated. Nothing big, just wanted to let you little bloglettes know.