Bangkok, Thailand — That’s right, AndrewHealan.com has gone international, and in a big way. Thailand means freedom land and is known as the land of smiles. Well, right now I’ve got freedom coming out my wazoo and I’m all smiles. Guess there’s no place better for me to be.
First some thoughts and observations that happened between there and here.
In flight entertainment has made major strides in the past few months. I watched Knocked Up, and episodes of The Office and 30 Rock. I also got to build a playlist and best my fellow passengers in games of whit and skill. I am the King Of Trivia for Delta Flight 55. That thrown will not be abdicated. I tried three times to watch Ratatouille. Fell asleep every time. I also couldn’t make it through Transformers.
Got some reading done, including all of the in-flight magazines as well as the local and national dailies.
Woodstock Elementary School in Portland, OR has 200 students in a Mandarin immersion program. Please put the WES PTA on the DHS watchlist. 200+ prepubescent children running around speaking Chinese, that reeks of a sleeper cell. And if so, be afraid, very afraid. Because of the Mandarin program, this school received a $700,000 Defense grant. Yep. we’ve got soldiers fighting in Iraq without proper Kevlar protection, but there’s almost three quarters of a million dollars to throw at some ankle biters in the PNW. Great prioritizing federal government. Let’s really make those kids earn the money though. I want them doing push ups in the rain. Running the ropes. Disassembling an M-16. Being able to sing happy birthday in a Chinese dialect doesn’t justify that kind of dough. I mean as a defense grant. Please give money to schools that are actually teaching kids useful skills. Post graduation, speaking Mandarin will be about 84 kajillion times more valuable than geometry. Just confirming that Cathy Borders (my high school geometry teacher) has wasted her life. HAHA!
Good for Bobbi Brown and her cosmetics line. But we need a moratorium on Bobbi/ie/y Browns. From make-up, to New Edition, to Cherry Pie, to Frank Zappa, we have way exceeded our quotient for famous Bobb(insert vowels) Browns. This ties into the excess of Dee Browns. Perhaps it’s time to retire the Brown surname.
Andie McDowell is doing ads for Revitalift. Isn’t that coming full circle for a model?
I was fortunate enough during my layover at Narita to enjoy a couple of beers with some of America’s best and bravest who were fortunate enough to be heading home to spend Thanksgiving with their families. What I didn’t enjoy was the music playing at the bar in the Tokyo airport. White Lion, Boston, Bad English and the Eagles. That playlist will make me move from beer to shots in a rabbit’s hop. Its nice to see that crappy music knows no border.
Regardless of the language it is presented in, I get just as much out of the preflight safety lecture.
Upon arriving in Bangkok, I got into a taxi. It seemed the most logical way to reach my hotel after all forms of public transportation had closed for the day (it was 00:05 AM local time). The journey into the city was no different visually than the trip from airport to town in most major American municipalities. Standard controlled access , multi-lane road passing many business parks, apartment complexes and billboards.
When I reached my hotel, I had my first local trying to rip off the farrang (foreigner) experience. The guy had a good system. He at first tried to take me to the hotel without turning on the meter. He was none too happy when I told him he had to. Then, he drove me down a road where many ladies and/or gentlemen of the night greeted new visitors. After arriving at the hotel, he had one last chance to squeeze an extra few Bhat out of me. He made sure to hand my bag to the doorman before telling me what I owed (more than the meter said). This put him in a position of power because he said I owed money, and I was separated from my bag. I told him he could wait for me and his money. I went inside, retrieved my bag, and then paid him the amount owed. He had no leg to stand on at this point, because I was at my hotel, and had all of my possessions. Better luck next time jerkhole.
The all-in-one bathrooms take a bit of adjusting. What you get is a room with a tiled floor and a drain in the middle. There is a toilet, there is a sink, and there is a handheld shower nozzle. You just hose your self down while standing beside the toilet. Not as bad as it sounds. At least the water was warm.
Fortunately, the TV at the first place I stayed had ESPN. But not the ESPN that I know and love. Their SportsCenter was hosted by an Anglo woman and a Seik male. An odder combination I’m not sure I could have conceived.
I also got VH1. This further proved my point that crappy music can unite differing cultures. Quick, somebody get Don Henley and Glenn Frye on the UN Security Council.
An easy way to break through the language barrier is by going to a fast food restaurant. I don’t need to speak the native tongue to get a value meal at McDonald’s, just be able to hold up the corresponding number of fingers.
This does not include, and eliminates special orders. I guess that would suck if you had special diatery needs. I know my index and middle finger will get me a double cheeseburger. I’m not sure what combination of digits would signify that I am diabetic or lactose intolerant.
Seeing multi-story tall Christmas trees and hearing carols while it’s 90 degrees is just weird. I thought how unfortunate that the Thais have been sucked into the early celebration of Christmas, then I realized they don’t have Halloween and Thanksgiving as guide stones on the holiday season path. It’s still way to early though. And in case your wondering, apparently there is no direct translation for Frosty The Snowman.
English is widely spoken in Bangkok. In fact, most Thais begin speaking English to me on sight. Not just nobility and diplomats, I’m talking fast food workers, even homeless people. That’s right, homeless people speak a second language. I went to a high school where honor graduates couldn’t crack 700 on the SAT, and now I’ve got a guy that can’t afford a place to live in a city where US $9 is a decent day’s wage is speaking multiple languages.
Thais love the King. There are pictures of the Royal family everywhere. But I haven’t seen a single shrine to the greatest export and #1 National hero Tera Patrick. C’mon Thailand. Get your priorities straight.
Someone asked me in an e-mail if I felt weird being a minority. I had to let that person know I spent the past few years living in New Orleans and Los Angeles. Most folks around me having different colored skin than me is not uncharted territory.
That will be an unceremonious end to this entry. My prepaid internet time is almost up. Please keep checking back as I should be updating at least every couple of day, maybe even with pictures. And if you are reading this, and in SE Asia, please, drop me a line.
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