Sunday, July 22, 2012

Quick thought


Just had a very fun weekend in Khanom, little beach town 2 hours away from Nakhon. Stayed in a pretty nice place for 600 baht between the 3 of us. I normally just tag along with couples, last year with Stu and Kait, now Joey and Jennica have taken over the role of looking after Teacher Bert.

 Short story: We all went out the Friday night with some Thai people I met and there was a typical Thai band playing Thai music with the occasional English song. 

There was also a group of high school kids that I assume the bar let's them stay there without drinking and are asked to leave at 11. These kids were having the TIME OF THEIR LIVES listening and dancing to this band play. These kids were not drunk and weren't trying to pick each other up, weren't acting too cool to dance, just loving every second and singing every word. Me and the other guys just looked at them in awe thinking none of us have ever had that much fun, doing anything..ever. It was great to see kids letting go and just embracing that moment. I consider myself pretty positive and try to look on the bright side most of the time. However, the thought kept coming into my mind that I don't think is good and hopefully not true: 

These kids have no clue that their lives are about to get much more difficult. 

I am hoping I didn't think that because they are Thai and have less travel and work options than Western people. And I'm not looking at it like a cynical old man who has been through a lot. I just think that kids don't think about the struggles ahead of not getting into the school you want, getting fired from a job, not getting the girl/boy you want, how much work goes into everything, losing friends, making and saving money, and other unfortunate things happening to them.
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And I hope these things don't happen and they have a billion things to look forward to. And I hope it was just in that moment I was being negative and all of them go on to have full and enriched lives, I just have my doubts. Then the next day I read about that guy from Colorado shooting up a movie theater and killing 12 people. I get that it is rare and we live in a world where we get tons of bad news and information. Really makes you want to unplug from the world and live in a bubble where nothing bad happens other than missing a mini bus to Samui and having to wait another 30 min. This post isn't very positive is it? Sorry about that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thai/Western culture

I was eating dinner with Phopon the other day at this nice little bar/outside restaurant before going somewhere one night and started talking about the difference between Thai and Western culture. Obviously, some things are the same; don't sleep with your friends girlfriend, don't steal your friends pet turtle or telling people they are handsome/beautiful is a fairly universal friend thing to do.
Here is something I never really noticed and learned about a slight difference between Thai people and some other Western cultures and thought I would write about it. For example, say I'm in Canada and I call up Kelan and say we should go grab a drink then go somewhere after. He accepts and we invite a few other people to join in. Kelan picks me up, we grab a drink, meet up with Roger, Russell and Colin, eat dinner and drink a bit. After we finish eating, there is talk of going downtown for a bit then maybe the casino after. Kelan isn't really feeling it so he goes home but the night continues on with me and the rest of the guys. Maybe we meet up with some of Colin's friends downtown. After being downtown, Russell and Roger head home while me and Colin go and gamble a bit at the casino. We obviously win money. Colin drops me off, I go to bed. Solid night. No problems.
Second example: Phopon calls me on a Saturday night in Nakhon, wants to hang out somewhere, talk a bit, split a bottle of Johnny Langer and see what happens. I'm obviously in and I meet up with Phopon at De Belle. We hangout a bit, then we invite a few other teachers to join, they come by for a drink and either come with us to the next bar or head home. Phopon, me and 2 other teachers go to Bangkok bar next, maybe lose a few teachers but other people might meet up with us. Then Phopon and I go to Cindy pub with whoever is left, invite a few people to come, some do, some don't, then we go to Vientian together. Phopon and I and whoever else is left. Phopon wants to grab food, I go with him, then we both say we have had enough, go our separate ways. Solid night.
Any major differences between the two?!
Major difference? Not really. 
What Phopon explained to me, which some people in Western culture probably do anyway just not consciously, is when a group of Thai people go out together, they are together from start to finish. Go to dinner together, get drinks together, go dance together, then all leave together. My friend was saying that you are obviously allowed to leave the group but it is kind of frowned upon and if the group is OK with you going, usually means you have lower status in the group. That is why I hardly ever see Thai people eating alone or out solo. You hardly ever see one or two people leave early. They come together and they leave together. There are downsides to this: You might want to just eat dinner with people then have to get up early to go to work the next morning, staying out till 3 might not be in the cards. 
However, I do like the idea of whatever happens, I'm with you. So now whenever I go out with him, I'm consciously thinking, whatever he does, I'm right beside him and vice versa. I think it builds stronger friendships. Knowing someone always has your back that night wherever you go is comforting. At home, people come and go throughout the night, might end the night alone but here, go out with a Thai friend and you have someone by your side throughout your adventure. And I think I like it. Hope I explained this well, Teacher Bert is not so good with the words.

Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.”W. Clement Stone

ps: As I was looking at friendship quotes, it made me think that I am unbelievably lucky to have a high number of people I would consider great friends. Definitely makes life more interesting. So, if we are friends, thanks for letting me have a bit of access to you. I appreciate it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Timbits of infomation

Good morning/afternoon/evening!

Just read something about what a guy has learned from being in Thailand and I have basically stolen that idea and created my own fun list of things you might not know unless you lived here:
1-In my town and most places in Thailand I can buy a bottle of alcohol for 200 baht, ($6) preferably Johnny Langer, bring it to a restaurant or bar and only have to buy ice/coke. Most places, the waitress will mix your drinks for you and if your glass is starting to run out, they will come by and fill it back up. 
2-I've said this in a previous post  but parade season is starting up again soon. Try driving to school on a random Tuesday and half of the road will be blocked off with cops and hundreds of perfectly dressed Thai high school students will be parading up and down the street with loud music, costumes and banners. It would be like going to work in Toronto near King street and being 10 minutes late because a massive Wednesday parade just started. Just wouldn't happen.

3-You know how if you go to McDonald's (eating there is a status symbol in my town and jobs at 7-11 and McDonald's are very sought after and above average) and once you finish you should bring your tray to the trash can and put your garbage away? Well it is my understanding and I could be wrong, but here it is sort of seen as being impolite to bring your own garbage to the garbage can. I think it might be seen as taking their job away from them but not entirely sure but all I know is other people don't so Teacher Bert leaves his tray. Don't judge me.

4-People will be super straight up with you about your appearance. Thai people will do this with themselves and foreigners. Looking a little fat today? “Teacher very fat today, looks like you have are having a baby” Looking very handsome as per usual? They will let you know. Especially with kids but I think kids are like this everywhere. They aren't mean spirited about it they just might not have as big of filter as a Western person.
5-Apparently, a lot of Thai girls who wear braces, especially in bigger places like Bangkok, don't need them and are just vanity braces. They wear them because it shows that they have money and makes them look younger. I heard about this and it makes a bit of sense then I asked a Thai teacher in my office and she said it is for real. I'm pretty sure growing up people were not happy about getting braces and never heard of people rocking fake ones. Whatever gets you through the day.
6-The King of Thailand is the longest reigning monarch in the world and is also the wealthiest. He is worth about 30 billion dollars.

7-I got a shave from a barber shop while I was back in Canada and it cost $30 which is 1000 baht. I get shaved once a week for about 60 bath which is $2. No rush on that return ticket home.
I hope you enjoyed a drama free week and weekend. Hope the summer is treating you formidably and you work the least amount as possible. Also, I re-read my New Years blog post and I am doing well on one of my resolutions but could show improvement on my second one. I will be doing so sometime this week and may write about it depending on how poorly it ends up going. 

I just recently had to go to the emergency room. I had some stomach virus thing. I almost called an ambulance. It's weird I mean considering calling an ambulance for yourself. Y'know. You call an ambulance for other people right? What are you suppose to say about yourself? "Can you come get me? Yeah I don't feel so good. Just come on in and I'll be lying on the floor." Brian Regan

Monday, July 2, 2012

HK post #2

Hope everyone had a safe, eventful and above average Canada Day!

Posted pictures last week and did a small post about Hong Kong, thought I would follow it up with a bit more detail. (Sidenote: I really don't like Math because of paying attention to little things. Least favorite thing my mom says to me "Favorite son of mine, pay attention to detail, attention to detail" ahhhh I hate it, moving on) In Cantonese, Hong Kong means fragrant harbour. 

Hong Kong is legally part of China but has its own constitution, different immigration than mainland China, their own financial system, free press and  a more open society that are allowed to protest. In 1898, the New Territories were leased to Britain for 99 years after the British won the Second Opium War and given back to China in 1997. 
That was a fun little history lesson right??? Hong Kong is massive, see below:

Flying into HK is a spectacular view, so many islands, golf courses, yachts, mountains, water, very cool sight. Flights from my town to Bangkok, to HK, back to Bangkok then back to Nakhon was under 10, 000 baht so a little over $300 Canadian. HK is one of the most expensive places city wise and real estate is crazy so it helped that Jake lives like a baller in HK in his uncle's condo that can house 2 other people and a woman who works there and takes care of the place. Saved some baht on that end and by drinking their Heineken. Hit up the pool a little bit, rainy season there right now so got lucky with the weather: 

Here is a little Bert story for everyone. (Isn't all of this one giant Bert story??) So I Gooooogled things to do in Hong Kong and looked for fun things to do at night and every Thursday there is a Pub Crawl that takes you to 5 different bars, different every Pub Crawl, 100 HK dollars which is 300 baht, which is like $13. They take us to different bars, walking in a group of about 100, find this small, quiet area and took a group pic:

So the main area in HK to party is Lan Kwai Fong, bars everywhere, can drink on the street, tons of people, really something that  Jake and I were into. So we get to the last bar of the night, and obviously there are two sides to every story but I seriously doubt this isn't 98% accurate. 
Two Chinese girls come up to me, one girl wants me to talk to her friend, not sure if they really speak English, super loud, so the girls friend puts her drink towards my mouth to drink it, I do, (always accept drinks from strangers in a new, foreign country, that's traveling 101) then like 15 seconds later, the girl who wants me to be friends with her friend straight up puts her mouth on part of my bicep and bits down as hard as she can while digging her very sharp nails into my forearm. I honestly knew them for about 1 min and this is what it looked like the next day:
I suppose it is my own fault for not telling them right away "No Biting". I wouldn't tell this story if there was a hidden side I am leaving out, I promise, I'm not. I really digged HK and had an amazing time. If I ever really need a wife that has a bunch of money, I'd be in HK in a heartbeat. Great city. 

"The moment may be temporary but the memory is forever"