When it's been too long

A recent column in the Bangkok Post compiled a list of signs that one has been in Bangkok for too long. Though I’ve only been here eight months, I read to see where I fall on the scale. (I think I'm okay to stay a little while longer.) Here are some of my faves:

"You tell someone it’s about 11 when it’s quarter to 12."

I wasn’t all that punctual before moving to Bangkok so living here just gives me an excuse. “What? I’m on Thai time.”

"You stand in the shadow of a telephone pole while waiting for a bus."

Yep, done that. (Well, while waiting for the light to change.)

"You stop thinking a girl riding pillion on a motorbike, side-saddle, wearing a mini-skirt, with one toe pointing towards the ground, while putting on makeup, is anything out of the ordinary."

This one's the funniest to me and so true—the motorbike acrobatics here are quite amusing. It’s not uncommon to see an entire family on one motorbike. And I’m baffled by the helmet logic. Many times the adults are wearing helmets but not the children. Or you’ll see someone riding with the helmet in his or her hand. Explain that one to me. I think it was Sarah (oh, I miss you Sarah!) with the theory that Thais have such good balance as adults because of all the time they spent on motorbikes as toddlers.

"You make the peace sign whenever you have your photo taken."

Ha! I haven’t done this. Not yet, anyway. But I see my students do it all the time. It also seems very Thai to take lots of group pictures. On the last day of every term, cameras are out in full force. You'll have a class that you didn't think you got particularly close to, but all of a sudden every student wants an individual picture with you. Puzzling.

[Addition: A few hours after posting this blog, I was taking pictures of Thai women dressed in their traditional costumes preparing to dance for an audience. One flashed me the peace sign, but I had my camera down and missed the blasted shot. Bummer! It would have been perfect.]

"When a visitor asks how can you stand the noise in Thailand, you answer 'What noise?'”

Oh, how I wish I were there. I read somewhere that Thailand should have a mute button and I’m in complete agreement. You’ve got all the traveling vendors with their unique sound—be it a horn or a song or a chant (mystery solved, the chanting comes from a feather duster vendor)—to alert potential customers. Then there are the taxi drivers with empty backseats who beep at pedestrians. And most piercing of all, the excessive whistle-blowing. The parking lot attendants and crossing guards all have them and all use them with gusto. (Actually, I think that was another sign mentioned in the column. You start parking your car with a whistle, or something like that.)

"You find that everything you own is counterfeit."

Well...maybe a few things. P'Tom, the coffee stand owner, wore his "Izod" shirt today and told me he sells them on the side for about $6. There's a true obsession with brand names here. Anyone who wants a Louis Vuitton, just let me know.


Here comes Peter Cassidy...

Melissa and Mike welcomed their firstborn, Peter Bradley Cassidy, into this world four weeks early on Monday. Congratulations you two! He's a doll and looking super cool already. He's going to love that adorable vintage cowboy theme you have waiting for him! I can't wait to meet him in person.


Happy Birthday Thai style

Today's my friend Stephanie's birthday so I emailed her this youtube video. But then I figured it's too good not to share with all of you. Listening to a group of Thais singing "Happy Birthday" makes me incredibly happy over here. The sound is just so joyous. As always, the Thais know how to put their own spin on something to make it that much more fun and quirky. This clip looks like what you see at all the karaoke bars here. I hope it brightens your day. Happy birthday Steph!


The things you find in the paper


Diesel dining

Went with some friends last night to a restaurant that probably has no real name, but we call it the "gas station restaurant" because it's in the parking lot of the Esso. It's as bare bones as it gets—a grill and Thailand's ubiquitous silver sidewalk tables—and there's the inevitable whiffs of gasoline, but get past that and you're rewarded with an outstanding meal for any price, let alone $3. People actually travel across town for the grilled fish here. We had one of those plus grilled chicken, grilled beef, lemongrass pork soup, papaya salad, and my beloved sticky rice to soak up all the dips. Alloy maak maak (really delicious ... I figure my use of Thai phrases is either getting on your nerves or you're storing them up to use on your trip over!)