Friday, February 27, 2009

Talktative tourist

A friend and I were at a phone shop purchasing some more minutes for her mobile phone when we encountered a tourist with a need to talk. We were ready to move on from the shop, but he was blocking the door as he continued to talk.
He asked how we could stand the smell of
Thailand—he was comparing it to his home in Hawaii and he didn’t appreciate the open sewers.
He wanted to know why we didn’t speak Thai, because he’d only been there for three months and he could speak it.
And he had a story about how he was served food with bugs in it and when he complained, the restaurant owner and his friends dragged him out to the street and tried to beat him up.
The Thai men were so much smaller than him that he just pretended to fall into the street so he wouldn’t get in trouble for hurting them.

As he was speaking, I immediately had pictures in my mind of this story taking place.
Despite its implausibility, I could see it all: noodles, chicken and little unwanted creatures moving around on his plate; a small gang of Thai men dragging this guy out into a dark street and hitting him.
Probably, somewhere in his story there were pieces of the truth, but it didn't really match what I know of Thai culture. How much of his story, I wondered, was embellished just to keep us, his audience, captive? It had to be an interesting story, or the same way we were squeezing past him to escape out the door we would also soon escape the embarrassment of hearing him ramble on and insult Thai culture.
I think that he must have been very lonely for contact and a conversation in English.
In that, I probably failed him.
But I hope he doesn't get beat up anymore.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Went to see a waterfall

I went with some friends to go see some waterfalls.
There were a lot more stairs involved in this trip than I thought there'd be. In fact, it was labeled as a 'fitness test'.

But the sign for those stairs said, "No climbing". It also said "no sharking" so we didn't take it too seriously, as there were no sharks in sight.
On the way there, we passed an interesting sight on a motorbike. Maybe they were going to the falls to swim?
We passed another rather frightening sign. How, I want to know, are those puny little sticks going to hold up that massive rock from falling on us?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Morning market

This morning I woke up a little bit earlier than usual so I could go with my friend to the morning market. It's a lively place full of smells. Some less pleasant than others.
And it has everything you could need for cooking up a tasty, local dish.
Here you can see the different sections for selling fish, vegetables, chicken, pork, fruit, and a little bit of Chinese new year thrown in.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bureaucracy that works

I had to fly from Thailand to Malaysia this week in order to obtain a longer visa. I had to make sure my trip avoided all the different holidays at this time and still took place before my current visa expired, so it was rather spur-of-the-moment.
But I was impressed by the Thai Consulate.
As I entered the gate, the guard there told me where to go, what to expect, and what to do. He also told me that I would be told to come back for my visa at 2pm, but it would really be 3:30pm and I would get bored waiting so long. Therefore, he said, wait until later to come.
I was worried that I didn't have all the paperwork necessary for the visa I was applying for. But the man at the counter said not to worry about it, just pay the fee and come back the next day to collect my passport. So I did.
Today, I returned to the consulate--but I'd forgotten the little slip of paper I was supposed to hand over in exchange for my passport. Oops. I was scolded three times as I passed the different check points, but still given the passport. Shew. As punishment for not having a slip, though, the guard did make me close the gate behind myself so he didn't have to get up. I can live with that.
The whole experience has given me the idea that maybe, just maybe, bureaucracy that works is almost...beautiful.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The demanding cat

I have been house sitting for a friend. The house also comes with a cat to feed. It's a very demanding cat with a meow that sounds like whining. It also has a pet-me-now-or-I-will-not-move-out-of-your-way pose.

Once in a while, it does let me have some peace.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Connecting differences

I like to find connection in differences. Things that are the same the world over, but have their own unique "flavor" in other locations.
Here are a few things I took note of this week...

A city's night life, full of lights and activity.

The cycle rickshaw.

A rooster statue.
Do they have those elsewhere in the world? They must.