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ธันวาคม 2550
2 ธันวาคม 2550
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Random Rants and Ramblings....

aka. yet another attempt to avoid sorting out the rest of my stuff...

1. The Advent Calendar
I opened the second door of my advent calendar this morning... A train, and not even a festive looking train at that. Yesterday's picture was a lion. Am now starting to wonder how many days it will be before I open a door and finally find something christmassy hiding behind it.

2. Missing Home
I have a friend, B a Thai guy, who's studying in the States. Sometimes he MSN's, normally when he wants to say hi or is missing home. He's on the East coast, and he tells me that it's really cold there now. The excitement of seeing snow for the first time ever, quickly disappeared once he realised that, for it to snow, it needs to be cold. Very, very, very cold. He should be used to the cold weather. He's from the mountains in the north of the country and it can get really chilly there. But, I guess there;s a big difference between 'a bit chilly' in Thailand and chilly in the US. He hates the cold. He MSNed me earlier this morning, and told me that he really misses Thailand. I asked him what he missed the most. His reply.... 'the beaches.'

The odd thing about this is that, in the year and a bit that I've known him, he's never mentioned wanting to go to, or having been to a beach once. When B (the French one, not the Thai one) lived here, and the 2 of us used to travel around at weekends, we often invited him to tag along. One time we asked him whether he wanted to go to Suan Soan Pradipat, a nice quiet pine tree lined beach just south of Hua Hin. His response 'borrrriiiinnng. I want to go somewhere coooooool.' His idea of cool ? 'Central Pinklao', a soulless Shopping Mall a kilometer or so down the road, a place neither B or I had any affection for. It's true. It is cool. Thai's like their air con, so, everytime I've been there it's been more than cool. It's f*****g freezing. I normally need to take a sweater with me whenever I go to the movies, or shop there.

I should have asked him whether he ever misses sitting in the lobby, or on the concrete patio that passes for a garden outside, moaning about his ex or about not being able to go out, arguing about whether words were real or not whenever we played scrabble and complaining about me making him catch the scary 6 1/2 (though its now gone up to 7) baht green bus over Pinklao Bridge, as these are the things that I remember most about him living here.

When I was in England, a couple of weeks ago, I missed Thailand a lot. The things I missed most were the things I saw everyday. The streetlife. People where I live who cook food or sit near the kerb, selling everything from perfume to second hand backpacks. 24-7 there's something to eat here, or someone wandering up and down the road who recognises me enough to say hello and ask me where I've been. I missed the colours on the street; Monks collecting food every morning, motorbike taxi and tuk-tuk drivers hanging around by the bus stop, waiting for fares, chillis and raw pork and beef left to dry in the sun. I missed taking the boat across the Chaophraya, visiting my old neighbour on Samsen, taking a stroll around the market in Siriraj, or taking my bike down to Talingchan or, up through Baan Grooway to Non.

It was really cold in England too. We had 7 Frosty mornings in a row, and, one night, the temperature dropped to -4. OK, I missed the weather too. Bangkok can be stiflingly hot and sticky, but, this time of year, the temperatures quite mild, and its a nice place to be. But... if I thought about my life here, beaches didn't even enter my head.

For anyone who's travelled, or lived away from home for a while, what do you miss most about home? Why?

3. Name calling...
When I was a kid I had a teddy bear (well it wasn't really a teddy bear, it was more like a deformed rabit with no tail and a teddy bear nose) called flossie bobs. I've no idea why I called him that. I guess I just liked the sound of the name. Children can call their teddies anything they want. Well... anything except Mohammed.

A few days ago there was a story in the Bangkok post about an English teacher in Sudan. As part of a project, she let her children think of a name for the class teddy. They chose Mohammed. The result of this... She was jailed, and is about to appear in court on some kind of religious defamation charge. Some Sudanese people are clamouring for her to recieved 40 lashes. Extremists want her executed. The story made the BKK Post as a couple of prominent Britsh muslims are flying to Sudan, to try and reason with the authorities there, and hopefully, get her home.

She made a mistake, a basic 'cultural misunderstanding' as she described it. Unfortunately, she was working in a country that couldn't see this, and the penalties are scarily harsh.

There's a huge number of cultural do's and dont's in Thailand. If you're a foreign tourist, it's OK if you slip up on a few. You don't know any better, but, live her a while, and Thai people who you hang out with, will expect you to know and respect them. If you don't, and can understand some Thai, you'll often see people smile at you, and then hear them complain out loud about how rude or badly behaved the foreigner is.

Here are a couple of examples. Things that are kind of normal at home, but definitely not good things to do here.

* Elbowing someone in the head when, ten or so people surge into an already crowded tube (sorry subway) train and, you're trying to work out whereabouts to grab the handrail.

* Hugging, holding hands with or (and this one is a definite no-no) snogging someone you like in public. Most times, if you fancy a guy here, you can't even tell him that you like him. Here, he's supposed to have some kind of magic 6th sense and be the one that chases after you.. not the other way around.

* Putting an important book between your knees (hey - if it's not supposed to go on the floor, where else can it go...), whilst you shake hands with someone, or use your hands to pick something else up.

* Standing on a 100 baht bank note to stop it blowing away when you accidently drop it on the floor. Putting lose change between your teeth, whilst you scramble to find or get hold of something else is also out.

You won't find the last 2 in any guidebook or lists about how to behave. I only know they're wrong because I've done them both, and heard, and struggled to understand the bitchy comments afterwards.

But, it's not just English people abroad that make mistakes. Thai people can also be culturally insensitive. Laughing when they find out that someone has just died, for instance, is something westerners, used to hearing phrases like 'I'm so sorry' or kind words of condolence, don't tend to appreaciate.

At my old school's sports day, last year, the foreign teachers turned up to see giant swastikas and 1/4 of the school dressed as Nazi's. Fortunately Brits are quite forgiving. Sure, we were outraged and shocked by what the students (and the staff who had helped and encouraged them) had done, but we could also see that it was an innocent mistake, commited more out of an ignorance of history than an attempt to celebrate and glorify Nazism. When the Thai students and, even worse, the teachers who are teaching them don't know a thing about the second world war ('Its not important' one of them later told me. 'It was not in Thailand...' - yep... Thai teacher's don't even learn about their own countries role in the conflict...) how on earth can you expect them to know a thing about the Nazi's or the atrocities that they committed.

Getting back to the story, I kind of wonder what would happen here, if Thai kids were asked to choose a name for a class teddy. Chances are that the eventual name wouldn't be that contraversial. If the kids I taught last year are anything to go by, they would probably choose something like 'ManU.' But supposing they chose King, or Bhumibol or Buddah ? King would be OK. There are plenty of guys here with the nickname King, but the other two....Would there be the same sense of moral outrage. Would parents campaign to have the teacher sacked, or arrested and kicked out of the country ???

Create Date : 02 ธันวาคม 2550
Last Update : 2 ธันวาคม 2550 15:11:09 น. 4 comments
Counter : 159 Pageviews.

I don't suppose any Thai kids or adults for that matter will ever, even THINK about using anything to do with the King for anything at all. In the old days you could get your head chopped off by looking at the kings...They are untouchable. According to the history if my memory serves me correctly there was one person named his dog......he was jailed.....I think...

Totally different here, eh...with the Spitting images and such.....?

When I missed Thailand it's my mum and dad I misses the most....and the morning markets, food....
You probably never knew this....some years back...I am talking 30-40 years ago...In the suburb Bangkok...Nontaburi to be used to be so COLD...and I meant the mornings of the winter monthes...people were wearing knitted jumpers....cardigans....My mum and dad spent 2 years in the UK studying and came back with a little portable heater, not the fan type...and had it in their room. We were only young, I must be 12 or something...I remember as soon as I woke up I had to go into their room and heat myself up in front of the little heater before I had a hot shower...I also remember in a UN van taking us kids (We were living in a government provided house in a hospital where my dad worked) to was crisp cold...mist over the canal water...cheapy crap cakes in colorful boxes in the shop fronts...People wore colorful cardigans walking about doing their business....they are what I missed as well...
I don't think I like Bangkok as it is now....
This time in Thailand, I plan to visit some morning markets and capture some moments to remember them by....

Now...back to packing you!

โดย: Ta (ta/'o-o/' ) วันที่: 2 ธันวาคม 2550 เวลา:16:11:29 น.  

Wow - I didn't realise that, in the past, people could be killed just for looking at the King. The King held a big anniversary party last summer (60 years on the throne I think...) and one of the teachers at my old school had soldiers knock on his door and tell him to leave his apartment. He'd been stood on his balcony with a pair of binoculars, watching the traffic police clear all the roads. He was told that he wasn't allowed to stand there whilst the king rode past. Even though he lived 1/2 a km or so away from the road. He was told to go downstairs (so he didn't see a thing....)

A swiss guy was jailed for leste majeste this year. He defaced a picture of the king when he was drunk, and the court case recieved a lot of publicity... But, he was let out on the quiet (pardoned by the King I think...) a couple of weeks later...

Yeah, Back in England, most people don't give a flying f about the royal family, or anyone in high office. It's a personal thing as to whether you like them or not. I sent a Thai friend this link:-


and they were genuinely shocked that English people could joke about our royals in this way.

I quite miss Spitting Image. Is it still on? Everyone used to complain about how it had gone downhill but everyone I knew always watched it.

I can understand you missing your parents.
Yeah, I missed the food a lot too. Fresh markets in the morning are great !!! It's really sad that hardly anyone in England shops in markets nowadays.

WOW!!! I couldn't imagine it being cold in Non. I used to go there a lot, and by the time I got off the boat was usually sweating, every single time.

I can't imagine anyone in cardies (except in offices etc...) in BKK. The only places I've seen people wear cardies in Thailand are in the hills near Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, and they've normally been bright, strange shaped, donated things that are either way too long, or too small for the poor person that has to wear them.

I can't imagine anyone needing a heater in Non either, or that it was chilly enough for there to be mist over the canals. It always feels so hot here.

Yeah, I'm not surprised that you think that you don't liek BKK nowadays. I went back to Sheffield 3 weeks ago and I didn't like it at all. It's changed so much, supposedly for the better, but the architects and planners have ripped the heart out of the city. Most of the things that made it such a special place are gone.

Yeah, enough ranting for one night... Back to packing, I guess :( night :)

โดย: kerrie วันที่: 3 ธันวาคม 2550 เวลา:1:53:12 น.  

Hey Kerrie..about looking at the King...if it was true it was long long long time ago or I might have seen it in the series on the telly...(take this with a pinch of salt until further notice)
One true story though...Have you been to Bang Pa-in...the most beloved wife of King Rama the 5th was drown there as no one dared to help her for fear of the punishment for touching the King's wife...<<
Re Spitting Image..I don't think it's still on, only on special occasion like The Red Nose day and stuff. There are some clips here //

You must miss Christmas at home. It is all commercial in Thailand with the OTT deccies...
I hope you have a good one wherever you may be...
The offer for the teabags is still on..whenever.

โดย: Ta (ta/'o-o/' ) วันที่: 3 ธันวาคม 2550 เวลา:3:32:17 น.  

That's really sad...

Cheers for the link...

Sometimes... Things I miss most about Christmas are running round to all the relatives houses to drop presents etc. off just before hand (as its usually the first itme you've seen them in months...), the crazy nights out with friends, and the big family dinners / parties...

I've never really missed it in Thailand. I've always ended up doing something, so not had much time to think about it. 2 years ago I flew back to England on Christmas Day (as it was the only day I could get a cheap-ish flight...) and it was really wierd wandering around Bangkok in the morning, finishing my christmas shopping.

I don't mind the fact that it's just a commercial thing here. I find it really bizarre that people want to celebrate it without having a clue what its supposed to be about.

Cheers - you too. Will you be in Thailand then ? or back in the UK ? Not sure where I'll be... somewhere up the north I guess...

Cheers. re: tea bags... Will let you know when I'm in the sticks for long enough to feel deprived...

โดย: Kerrie IP: วันที่: 3 ธันวาคม 2550 เวลา:22:57:14 น.  

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