Saturday, October 25, 2008


Sick, sick, sick. After two days of not eating I munched some crackers and strawberry Pocky yesterday to let my stomach gradually get used to food again. This morning when I woke up I was surprised to feel a strange rumbling in my stomach. It took me a moment to recognize it as hunger pangs. What a joy to have an appetite again! I'm especially surprised to be alert and feeling fit after a night of Thai clubbing, complete with the tasteless Thai club drink of choice, whiskey and club soda.

Home again! Flew back into Bdesh this morning!

Now that I'm back in Dhaka I want to sort out my Bangkok experience in my head. It was...what's the word...interesting? Did I enjoy myself this week despite the illness? Yeah. Would I go back again on vacation? Heck yeah! Would I go teach there? Hmm. I partly came to Bkk to see if I want to teach at a Christian international school there and am very undecided.

Thailand is, in the words of a fellow teacher, "a pleasant country." The people are generally mild and friendly, with easy smiles and quiet mannerisms. I love the miniature head bows with teepeed hands exchanged out of respect, even amongst the younger generation. But one major aspect to the Thai culture is an aspect I left Orlando to escape.


Knock-offs, fashion, shopping. All these abound to an astonishing extent from what I saw in Pattaya, Bangkok, and from what Wow (a Thai fashionista) tells me, all over Thailand. You cannot get away from the shopping in that country! While it was great fun to buy ridiculously huge hoop earrings for a quarter each and a cheery red La Coste tee for a few dollars, I think I couldn't handle more that a week of the consumerism.

Relationships satisfy me. People satisfy me. I don't need the added shopping distraction where I live. Frankly, Dhaka doesn't many material pleasures for me. Bingo. Exactly what I need. I hate the culturally appropriate female dress here, shalwar kamezes and the ever necessary urna for my chest.

Let me repeat that.

I hate shalwar kamezes. Oh, how do I hate them? Let me count the ways!
1. They're sticky and confining in hot weather, which we have 9 months out of the year.
2. Also, I'm Floridian and possess the innate instinct to wear as few clothes as possible. Let's just say the good Lord did not bless me with a sense of modesty.
3. Lastly, my main mode of transportation is my bike. Baggy shalwar and bike chains DON"T mix. Period.

But in spite of this female clothing of oppression loathing, I love working in Dhaka. I love that the lack of western fashion frees me to volunteer at a slum school, work at my church's kid's club, teacher after school activities, and tutor adults in English. I love that the time I would spend shopping on weekends in Florida I now I spend chatting with my Irish girlie. In this sense Dhaka's lack of matieral goods to entice me (yeah, they may hold consummeristic appeal to Bengalis) leaves me free to be used by God for His purposes, relational and otherwise.

Well, I guess that's sorted in my head now. Unless God drops a billboard with neon flashing lights in front of my face this year directing otherwise, Bangkok will not see me as a teacher next year.

The search for my ideal country continues...

"I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O God, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is Your love, higher than the heavens." -Psalms 2b-4a (These verses made me smile today).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Surreal Experience

The past week has seen me hanging out in Thailand for the October school holidays. Yea for a week away from my lovable, but needy, students! I've been visiting my Thai friend, Wow (yes, that is her name! Well, sort of. Her actual name is unpronouncable by very American me, so that's what I call her.), After a few days in Bangkok, where I am sorry to admit I did not see any temples or historical landmarks as I was too busy browsing through the innumerable markets and malls for cheap knock-offs, we headed out of the city for the beach.

Pattaya is about 2 hours drive south of Bangkok and felt like home to me. The beach town felt like a slighter poorer version of South Florida, excepting the hazy mountains in the background.

The surreality began with the amazing amount of foreigners inhabiting the place. After coming straight from Dhaka, which has a notable lack of foreigners, it was a shock to see so many fair skinned people like me. The difference was most of these foreigners were retired, and may I add unattractive, European business men walking around with their younger, also unattractive, Thai girlfriends. Wow informed me that if I see an ugly Thai girl, it's really a girl, but if I see a pretty Thai girl, it's actually a transvestite.

Apparently Thai plastic surgury is remarkably good.

This brings me to the next part of my surreal experience. The night of our arrival in Pattaya I was acutely sick with traveler's stomach and feeling out of it, so when Wow announced we were going to spend the evening at a world famous transvestite show I decided I was hallucinating. Yet I wasn't and we proceeded to watch the Tiffany Show, a Thai version of Las Vegas show girls, ahem, I mean transvestites, perform amazing imitations of Tina Turner, Whitney Housten, and Marilyn Monroe acts. They were good. Pretty darn good. What further weirded me out was I found myself envying their gorgeous hairstyles and perfect thighs.

Now I've just arrived back in Bangkok and am questioning whether or not that abnormal Pattayan experience actually happened.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Weekend

A quiet weekend, finally.

After five days of hectic teaching, it feels good to have no agenda. My across-the-hall-mate just asked me what my plans for the day are, and it was so nice to say "just to go for a run." Swimming, lying on my coach reading Maeve Binchley, eating genuine Cadbury's chocolate with Esther, drinking coffee. It's been a quiet weekend.