Thursday, June 17, 2010

Last day in Thailand

We’ll be headed to China tomorrow and thanks to their special government, it may be that blogger and Facebook are blocked. We’ll try to use a proxy, but if we’re only reachable by email…that’s why.

I’m really excited for China.

When Jacob and I were dating, and were already talking about marriage, I dropped a bombshell on him.

“I’m going to go teach English in China,” I told him one evening at my apartment. I showed him the literature on teaching English from the library and the maps of China. I’m pretty sure I rendered him speechless.

“You see,” I hurried on, “Once I’m married I’ll never get a chance to travel again. So I figure, I’d better do it now, you know, because once I’m settled down I may Never get to Visit China!”

I’m not sure what the allure of China above other places was—I suppose it was my idea of the epitome of East versus West, exotic and foreign, as well as easy to find a teacher position without a degree.

Jacob said, “I’ve always planned to travel too. That’s one reason I want to pursue internet business.”

I’m ashamed to admit I said this: “Well, everyone says they want to travel, but it never really happens.”

I continued to research different areas of the country and applied at many schools and daydreamed of going there. I only stopped when Jacob PROMISED that when we got married he would take me to China.

Since then he has asked if he has fulfilled this promise yet. I told him that the travels we have already completed can constitute fulfillment; but, tomorrow it will really happen!

Below are more pics of Thailand.

How to describe Thailand…

1. It’s beautiful

2. It’s cheap

3. It’s easy

4. It’s comfortable (feels like you could be in America while retaining exotic elements)

As the most popular country in Southeast Asia, it’s full of tourists. And this is the “low” season. It’s a great place to relax and have a great time. It’s so easy to do tours, go to the beach, get around the country, and just have fun for relatively for cheap prices. But we found it difficult to be a “traveler” here as opposed to a “tourist.” We usually travel—live like the locals and keep things low-key while experiencing a new culture, not tour or live the way Americans would live in America while happening to be in Thailand. But Thailand is set up to cater to tourists! It feels, in fact, MADE for tourism.

We haven’t met any Thais except those that have been ruined by tourism. Thailand is known as the land of the smiles. There’s “Smile Book” bookstore and “Smile Drug” drugstore and they smile no matter what. Two instances of this:

Bus attendant smiling tells me to get off the bus. She is clearly frustrated at how long I am taking. Smiling she orders me off in two minutes. Then the bus starts driving away with me still in it. She never stops smiling as she grows increasingly frustrated.

Second time a guy wants to be my tour guide. Another lady comes up acting as his competition. He approaches her and, smiling, pops her in the face. They start a physical fight. He’s smiling. I walk away.

Thailand is also terribly seedy, at least where we were. Buddhism seems to be an extremely tolerant religion, which may be why, when you walk down the street, you have no way of knowing if you are looking at a beautiful man or an ugly woman. “Ladyboys” are men who dress up like women, act as prostitutes, and go after heterosexual men. Very twisted. And they were on every street corner. Then mix that with skanky ladies yelling “Massa!” (Thais always leave off the last letter) and offering “boom boom massages” and old white men holding hands with young Thai girls and the sex tourism industry is staring you in the face.

Tonal languages can be quite harsh on the ear to the point of being whiny, and combining that with the Thai love of kareoke and awkward dancing and overdramatic television playing on the bus ride to Bangkok and I had to come to the conclusion that a lot of Thai culture is just downright cheesy.

You’d think I’d eat Thai food to my last meal here, but—sadly—we’ve learned even Thai food can get old. Besides I found a place where I can eat salads and not get sick. Heaven!

To give Thailand a break, I was missing India and am still missing India. I think of the little boy I tutored every day, and it’s painful. I miss the people of India. I think a part of me is now Indian, and a part of me is Muslim, and when I’m not around those people, I’m missing a part of me.

In short, I’d definitely recommend Thailand for a short vacation with friends—which is all most people do anyway— but not as a place I’d choose to live for an extended period of time.

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Buddhism is apparently okay with ambiguity. For example, they don’t believe in God, they respect Buddha; yet, there are Hindu Gods all over the complex whom they “respect” and they believe there are 7 levels of heaven where you go based on your deeds. They also believe their king is a reincarnation of a Hindu god.

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Julia said...

Your story about traveling abroad before you get married sounds familiar... :) I guess it wasn't one-size-fits-all advice.

I love hearing about your travels and experiences. I'm a little envious as I experience your adventures vicariously. Have a great time in China! Glad you finally made it.

oh said...

If you could have seen a future filled with travel, you may have been the one to propose to Jacob.

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