September 2002 Archives

Never Mind: Floods Coming to Bangkok?

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Hmm. On second thought, I don't think I will be travelling for a while. (See post from earlier today, below.) As you might have heard, the flood waters are in Ayuthaya now and are coming to Bangkok next week. Seems that a triple whammy of heavy rains, the highest tide of the year, and a tropical storm are going to make things very soggy here for a while.

For more info, see the article Triple Flood Threat from the Borneo Bulletin.

I am already looking forward to the time after the floods. Not just because it will be drier, but because I have a few friends from San Francisco that will be visiting Bangkok. My friend Andy will be arriving this weekend, and on the 10th both Rupert (as part of his around-the-world trip) and Gary (visiting with a bunch of friends from Singapore) will be here. Perhaps I can talk Rupert into doing the Kanchanaburi and Ayuthaya road trip with me.

Acclimating?

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My friends and family back home often ask me if I am getting acclimated to life in Thailand. Well, I have to say that I am definitely getting over the initial shock of being here. When I first arrived, it was sensory overload: new sights, sounds, smells, tastes. Now I actually blink every now and then. Some things are starting to fade into the background noise, like street vendors and tuk-tuk drivers constantly vying for my attention.

Now that the big picture isn't so overwhelming, some times I notice new details. For example, when I first arrived in Bangkok, I thought to myself several times, "It would be nice to have a Walk/Don't Walk sign at this busy intersection." I never saw any of them at first, but now I see them all over the place. I have no idea why I didn't recognize them before. I guess there were just too many other new sensory inputs for my brain to process.

Yet even though in some ways I feel more comfortable here, at the same time I still feel very much like an outsider. I have picked up a few words of the language here and there, but I am hardly fluent. I am learning my way around Bangkok, but every day I hear of somewhere new that I have never heard of. It is almost like an out-of-body experience: I am living here every day, but I am not a part of life here. A large part of my effort still goes into day-to-day survival. Where is Place X on the map? How do I get there from here? How do I eat when the menu in front of me is all written in Thai script? How do I conduct personal business with my bank accounts from thousands of miles away?

Meanwhile, I have spent much of my time the past two weeks looking for a job. If I can't find one here, I want to return to the U.S. knowing that I at least tried. When I was job hunting back in San Francisco during the past year, I found the experience exciting ("Oh, here's a cool job posting!") and depressing ("I wonder why no companies have called me back.") After a few weeks of looking here in Thailand, I have to say that I feel the same way.

But now that I have caught up with all the postings on the job sites and can check for new postings for an hour or so each day, and I am starting to feel restless, anxious, and a bit stagnant, I think it's time to hit the road again. I've been reading in my Lonely Planet Thailand and I think Kanchanaburi and Ayuthaya, west and north of Bangkok respectively are next on the travel itinerary, perhaps starting this weekend.

huamark.jpgAs I mentioned before, I have been swimming a little bit at National Stadium in Bangkok. But now I have a new favorite place to swim: Hua Mak Sports Complex. It is a much better facility, clean, less crowded, cheaper, but it is a LOT farther away. It takes me about an hour to get there by bus. But I think it is totally worth it.

Hua Mak is very impressive in that there are thousands of people exercising there every night. I enjoy just walking around watching people play all kinds of sports. Tonight I had my camera with me, and took a few shots. Check them out in the photo section by clicking on the pic.

Swatting Butterflies in Nonthaburi

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It's been a few days since I have written anything in this journal, mostly because I haven't really been doing anything exciting here in Bangkok. I spend some time every day online looking for a job. I have also been trying to either swim or go to the gym every day. See, I told you my life wasn't very exciting :)

I had a fun night last night, though. I traveled up to Nontaburi, a neighborhood in northern Bangkok, to visit my friend Tiw. I met him as he was getting off work and he and his co-workers and I walked a block away to a restaurant for some Singha beers and Thai karaoke.

The restaurant they picked was on the corner of a small back alley, and was open-air on both sides. I sat there with them for a few hours, watching the occasional rain shower and the motorcycle taxis splashing through the puddles in the street, feeling the cool breeze blowing through the shop, listening to Thai pop music, drinking my favorite beer, and swatting the mosquitos (which Tiw, with his limited English vocabulary, insisted on calling "butterflies") that were feasting on me.

Ok, so that wasn't necessarily very exciting either. But again, it's the simple pleasures that I have found so enjoyable here...

Transportation

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skytrain.jpg I just added a new Photo Album to the picture blog: Pictures of Transportation. So far there are pics of modes of transportation I have taken: the skytrain, boats, motorcycle taxis, tuk-tuks, songthaew, and airplanes, and some that I haven't like elephants and intertubes. Some of these pics I took today while I was out and about town.

Doug Clark 1936 - 2002

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Its a sad day for fraternity party fans on the East Coast: Doug Clark of Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts has passed away at the age of 66 (external link). The Hot Nuts were one of the most popular bands to play at fraternity parties at my alma mater Washington and Lee. Sure their show was a bit risque and they never planned on making it big (as opposed to our other party favorites Boyd Tinsley and Dave Matthews) but their music was a whole lotta fun. I am sure Doug will be missed.

orchidbuddha.jpgYesterday I was feeling adventurous (maybe my illness is over now) and so I played tourist. First I visted the Jim Thompson House. Mr. Thompson is credited with reviving the Thai silk industry. His house is a beautiful example of traditional Thai archetecture with Western touches.

Then I took the canal boat to an area called Bangkapi. My American friend Steiner told me that there was a swimming pool at the mall there. Well, the swimming pool turned out to be a big water park on the roof of the mall. I had a great time doing a few laps, floating in the Lazy River, and riding a few water slides. I met many Thai people here. Everyone was excited to practice their English with me and so they were all very chatty.

I finally left and rode the bus back home, utilizing the new bus map that I had purchaced earlier that day. It was my first bus ride and I have to say it was a good experience... a 45 minute ride door-to-door for 5 baht (about 12 cents).

Theban Mapping

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I was just directed to one of the coolest websites I have ever seen and so I want to share it with all of you. It is an interactive atlas of Egypt's Valley of the Kings (external link). There are lots of excellent maps, schematics, and movies all served up in an easy to use interface.

Very rarely do I see educational sites that are both easy to use, informative, and entertaining, but this is definitely one of them. If I was a teacher and I wanted my students to do a report on the Valley of the Kings, I would send them to this site.

Interview #1

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My first job interview in Thailand went very well today. I talked to who may become my new boss at the university. She thought I was perfect for the job, and next week will be talking to her boss, the VP, about hiring me.

The interview went so smoothly that I think I will look into the other schools in Bangkok that also have classes taught in English. The lady I interviewed with today seemed surprised that I wasn't talking to any other schools, so maybe I should do that!

Thai Resumes

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resume.jpg Today I spent most of the day getting ready for my job interview tomorrow. One difference in the job hunt here in Thailand than in the US is that you have to include a picture with your resume. Preferably a professional looking one. So I went to the neighborhood Kodak store (there are Kodak and 7-11 stores everywhere) and got my picture taken.

Ok, I don't know about you, but that pic looks scary to me. Oh well, it's going on my resume.

(By the way, this is just a test to see if I can include pictures here on the homepage easily. Looks like I can.)

One Year Later

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My favorite columnist (not that I agree with everything he says, but I almost always like the way he says it) from the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an excellent article published today. The title says it all: Not Another 9/11 Column. You can read this now, or you can log off and shut down and get quiet, and just remember (external link).

He says that today all Americans should turn off the TV and just reflect on the events of a year ago. "In your own way, on your own terms, remember where you were, what you were doing, what you were feeling when you observed the world change forever, when you witnessed history writ large and in dark gothic script, raw and obscene and indelible. Perhaps this is the best way. "

A year ago today I had just moved into my new apartment on Twin Peaks in San Francisco. I woke up to my clock alarm saying "planes... fire... accident... New York... World Trade Center..." I made it into the living room to see the second of the towers fall, and then I stayed glued to my couch -- one eye on the TV, the other on the view of downtown SF and the planes that were still flying overhead. I called my friends in New York, called my family in North Carolina, called my friends in San Francisco.

I could only take so much media coverage, so I eventually left the house and walked around a mostly deserted town (no one went to work that day). I felt numb. Every now and then I would slip into a bar or restaurant with a TV and watch the latest news. Or I would check my email at an internet cafe. That's where I learned that two of my college buddies worked in the WTC every day, and another was scheduled for a meeting there that day. Eventually I found out that all three were safe.

In many ways I think my numbness and lack of shock was because I have always known that the US has its ememies, and that all of us who live there take our safety and our way of life for granted. But then the next day at work, where everyone was there talking about what had happened, the sheer magnitude of the tragedy hit me.

It has been a long year since then... long on experiences, short on time. It seems as if it has flown by. In the last 365 days I was laid off once and re-hired for a limited time twice. I took my first trip to Asia visiting Thailand and Singapore. I made a lot of new friends, became reaquainted with some old ones, and lost and re-found my very best friend. And now I am in Bangkok again.

They say the world is a different place now, one year later. I am not so sure about that. People have been killing other people in the name of their God for thousands of years. All I do know is that MY world is definately a different place now, one year later.

Last Pics

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Ok... after working on this little project for most of the day, all of my pics from my last 2 week road trip have been posted. So now in addition to the ones from Chiang Rai, I have also posted a bunch of photos from Chiang Mai. Check em out!

I just uploaded a few more photos from Chiang Rai, including Mae Sai and the Golden Triangle. That brings the total to about 30. Whew.

Chiang Rai Photos

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I am still feeling a little under the weather. In fact, after finishing my medication yeseterday, my sickness started to return today. But now I have had another trip to the doctor, and my supplies are replenished.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was getting a membership at the pool at National Stadium so I can start swimming again. I was only able to manage about 1200 meters before I had to get out, so I have a lot of work ahead of me before the meet in Sydney in November.

I also spent a few hours going through the 150+ digital pics from my trip to Northern Thailand. I was able to post the best 20 or so photos from Chiang Rai and I will try to get to the rest of them soon.

Back "Home"

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I arrived safely in Bangkok yesterday after being on the road in Northern Thailand for two and a half weeks. I'm still feeling a little bit sick, but definitely much better than a few days ago. I think I'll just lay low for a few days and recouperate. Perhaps that will give me some time to upload the many pics and respond to all of the emails in my inbox. It's good to be home.

Um... did I just call Bangkok home?

Food Poisioning Again

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The last time I came to Chaing Mai (last November) I really loved it. It was my favorite place in all of Thailand. The only problem was that I got food poisoning and spent 2 days in bed.

This time I still loved Chiang Mai, and this time I still got sick. I went to the hospital early Wednesday morning and was given medicine for food poisoning. I have no idea where I got the bug -- everything I ate tasted sooooo good (as usual). But I definitely got something. Whatever it was has kept me in bed for the past 2 days. Ugh.

I seem to be getting better now. At least I don't have a fever any more. But my stomach is still a little unhappy. In any case, I am tired of laying in my hard bed in my guesthouse, so I am flying back to Bangkok this afternoon.

On the bright side of things, I learned some new Thai words like buat hua (headache) buat tong (stomach ache) and kai (fever). :)

Answering Beth's Questions

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As you might have read, my sister Beth has been asking a lot of questions. Good ones too. So I will take some time here to try to answer some of them.

Why "Golden Triangle"? You were right that the "Triangle" part comes from being the border of three countries: Thailand, Loas, and Myanmar. I have no idea why they call it "Golden" though. Does anyone else know?

Why is the border closed? Well, I am not sure exactly. I believe that it has something to do with fighting that has been going on in Myanmar. There is a group of people who are fighting with the Myanmar goverment, and sometimes that fighting spills over into Thailand. Keeping the border closed is (I think) an attempt to stop that. And yes, the border crossings were defintely illegal. Why would people come over? Perhaps to work (illegally) or to sell goods to the tourists?

Why Myanmar and not Burma? The old name was Burma, but the new government renamed the country Myanmar.

On the Prince's Mother's Gardens: Yes, I visited the gardens that are next to the Royal Villa. Also, after asking a few more people, I think that the correct name is "Grandmother Princess".

How is the north different than the rest of the country? The north of Thailand is very mountainous and more rural. The towns are much smaller and are, for the most part, found in the valleys. It is also much cooler up here, but it's still pretty darn hot!

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2002 listed from newest to oldest.

August 2002 is the previous archive.

October 2002 is the next archive.

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