Friday, February 23, 2007

:: Musings from Thailand:: Day 1: 23 February

Sitting out on the patio. There’s the perfect amount of shade and opening above me. The air is tropical thick, but the breeze is sweetly forgiving. Even in this little nook on the patio, there is so much vegetation- green and alive. And the green is GREEN-green, vivid…this is one of my favorite things about tropical places.

I seem to have avoided jet lag. I’m not sure if it’s because my friend Jay made such a big deal about how jetlagged I would be and through sheer will, I have proved him wrong, or because I’m just a champion sleeper and had no problem going to bed when he did and waking up when he did. Ah- it is probably both! Why do we always have the need to make things black and white, one or the other? We are more complex than to make decisions in such a base manner!

I spent a few hours walking around Thong Lar this afternoon. Jay very seriously warned me to be careful walking on the trick-tiled sidewalks and crossing the street. A warning needed for the average pedestrian, but those of you who know my clumsy, ADD ways (I think the only place where I’m remotely graceful is on my yoga mat), you know that the warning is particularly serious for me. They drive on the opposite side of the road here so I have to remember to look all ways before crossing. Apparently if I do get hit by a car, the driver will jump out not to check if I’m ok, but to yell at me for being in the way. I did already witness a car back into a girl on a scooter…no one was hurt because the car was creeping very slowly, but I don’t know what was more interesting- that the driver didn’t stop even though people were slamming on the car to make her stop, or that the girl on the scooter was completely nonchalant, making zero effort to move out of the way. (Let it be noted here that sometimes I think it’s okay to not be non-reactive.)

People wear normal clothes here, even though it’s so hot that even if you were walking around nude, sweat puddles would form on the ground around you every time you took a step. Jeans, button up shirts, sometimes even sweaters! Do Thai people just not get hot?

Street food on sidewalk cafes seems to be the most popular places for locals to eat. It reminds me of Korea. Or the carts of bacon-wrapped hot dogs outside of Staples Center. You know that feeling you get as you consider getting one of those hot dogs? It smells sooo delicious but you wonder how safe it is to eat it, and you spend a moment wagering if it’s worth the risk of a heinous stomach virus? That’s how I’m feeling about the street food here, so I haven’t tried it yet. But I will; I’ve come prepared with antibiotics should I come down with a case of watery diarrhea (Thanks, Dr. Kim!). There are Starbucks and 7-11s dotting the streets here like all other cities in the world. They look fairly out of place, and yet I would be surprised if they weren’t there. I picked up some groceries- fresh vegetables and fruits (they have organic produce here, yeah!) (and Sara, they don’t cost a freaking arm & a leg like in the TCI) and seaweed-flavored potato chips. YUM!

I love Thai writing…it looks like a cartoon version of Sanskrit and sometimes the letters look like elephants! I haven’t yet seen any elephants, but I suspect they don’t roam the streets of Bangkok…perhaps I’ll see them when I travel to some of the more suburban cities.

My thoughts on what little I’ve observed and experienced about Thai peeps is that they are gentle and loving and kind and hard-working. When I come into contact with someone who speaks Thai to me, only to immediately realize that I’m a foreigner, he smiles and tries some English. There is no disdain towards me for being a foreigner, unlike certain places (ahem- France). I thought maybe I could blend in – I AM Asian and dark-skinned, after all – but another foreigner walked right up to me and asked me a question in English, so there goes that illusion (illusions are good to strip away, anyway).

I’m eating deliciously crisp and juicy watermelon. A serving of 5 fairly large (palm-sized) pieces for 9 baht. That’s about a quarter.

Yup- this is going to be a sweet trip.

Sawat Dii!

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