Simple

Yesterday, I bought a “Hello Kitty” toaster.  It wasn’t an easy decision. Not because it was inanely silly but, because up until now, all of our purchases have been made with the intent of bringing said item home to the states.  But  I can’t use this toaster in the U.S – wrong voltage, it won’t work.   Until yesterday, I have psychologically been a visitor to Thailand.  Well, I am not visiting.  I live in Thailand.  And frankly, all the craziness and loneliness, excitement and exhaustion is growing on me.  I love being in the moment of our simple life.

Hello Kitty Toaster

Hello Kitty Toaster. Every homes needs ones.

For me, entering into another culture has been nothing short of mind-blowing.  And while my first blogs have humerously expressed my shock and humiliation, there is so much that is amazing and wonderful about this  experience.  Here’s what makes me happy in Thailand.

I am becoming a fan of Heineken.  I know, I know.  This is blasphemy from a NW girl where beers like Wicked Cousin or Bodice Ripper are the norm.  But, it’s nice to go simple.  And, in comparison to our local selection of Leo, Chang and Singha – Heineken is truly the king of beers.

No car.  Need I say more?  O.K., I will.  No driving, no gas, no parking, no repairs. Sigh.

No scooter.  We had one and took it back.  Thank GOD!  We had to end the madness.  It’s not just going fast on scary crazy busy streets, it’s also going SUPER slow through a market and trying to keep the scooter from tipping over.  Enough.

liz-going-to-work

Going to work at 6am. Simple.

If not a car or scooter, then what?  I ride my bike to work everyday.  Rick rides his bike for errands around our neighborhood.  Longer distances?  Took a 4 hour train to Hua Hin for about  $6 each.  One hour cab ride into downtown Bangkok for about $9.  Same distance on the water taxi is 50 cents and it’s about a dollar on the Sky Train.  Plus, you can take a scooter taxi or a tuk tuk or bus thingy.  Just walk along and stick out your hand (palm down of course – otherwise it’s somehow offensive) and you will eventually get a ride.  Bonus:  someone else is driving.

No T.V.  Don’t misunderstand.  We can GET T.V. – we choose not to.  We get our news when we want it.  LOVE THIS.  And, we access a variety of internet news services from the US, Thailand, UK, Hong Kong – interesting to see the world from different perspectives.   Yes, we watched the debates… on Youtube.  Sick of hearing about the emails?  Fast forward.  Sick of the converation about groping?  Fast forward.  Simple.

Cash-based society.  Day to day stuff is found in street markets that spring up everywhere.  You can buy ANYTHING at a market.  Food, clothes, household goods, extension cords, fans, potted plants, pets, car parts, computer gear, toys.   We pay our bills at 7-11 in cash.  The only time we use our debit card is to take cash out of the ATM machine.  I can’t tell you how much simplier our financial life has become.  We just subtract our ATM cash withdrawals from our balance and Voila!  We know how much money we have.  Simple.

scooter-haul

Yes. That’s all going on the back of the scooter. How else do you get merchandise into the narrow lanes of Chinatown?

Letting go.  For those of you who know me, this is kinda big.  Thailand is a place where our lack of control is starkly evident.  For me, I know this intellectually.  I know I can’t really control everything in my environment or the outcome of events.  But, being the human I am, I valiantly continue to try.  Here, laws that have offered a sense of control are non-existent.  You spill hot coffee on yourself and get a burn?  Bad luck.  Can I help you get to the doctor?   Taxi driver take you to the wrong place?  So sorry.  Big smile.    But, what do you do?  Mai Pen Rai.  No need to blame.  Let it go.

bridge-over-river-kwai

Get hit by a train? Bummer. No law. You probably should have moved.

Boredom.  The simple nature of our Thai life has offered a chance to do nothing.   Many of the distractions of our US life have been slowly peeled away.  My sister Karen once said that being bored is a good thing because it allows us a chance to find and do what we really want to do.  I would add that it also offers a chance for self-reflection.  If you’re open and allow the reflection to occur, this can be powerful and sometimes painful.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  So far, I’ve seen a little of each.   And, it’s all o.k.   

Thank you Thailand.  It’s as simple as that.

rick-hua-hin

Not Doing.

Humbled — Going Global

So now that I’ve been here in Thailand for about 12 weeks, I like to consider myself more than a tourist. More than a traveler, even. A bit of an expert. I’m an Expat. I’ve made the commitment and I deserve the respect. When Thai’s ask “Where are you from?” I proudly respond, “I live […]

via Humbled — Going Global

Humbled

Cute tucked in everywhere

Everyone is smiling at the experts.

So now that I’ve been here in Thailand for about 12 weeks,  I like to consider myself more than a tourist. More than a traveler, even.  A bit of an expert.   I’m an Expat.  I’ve made the commitment and I deserve the respect.  When Thai’s ask “Where are you from?”  I proudly respond, “I live in Min BUR ee.”  They smile and say, “Oh, you live in Min bur EE?”  I cringe and obediently repeat their quick language correction, and sheepishly say, “Yes, Min bur EE.”  

As a seasoned local, I know 15 Thai words all together and can confidently say hello, thank you, please, yes, no, left, right, here, chicken, pork  and can count 1-5.  And when ordering food I can look slyly at the pictures and quickly think, “that’s the green curry”, “that’s tom yum soup”, “that’s a fish thingy” and then point to the picture and nod “yes.”  The servers are almost always impressed.  In fact,  a few nights ago, Rick took me to a VERY hipster place in Chinatown called The Tep Bar.  Tucked away down a winding little alley, it’s darkly lit with a lotus bud on each table.  Traditional Thai music played by artistic college students to entertain us  and the wait staff is ultra cool with old school Chinese beards and man buns.  First plus, drinks are two for one.  Score.  The very modern server brings her iPad over to take our order. I tell her our choices and she dutifully pulls up the picture on her screen and I nod, “Yes.”  Deep fried chicken dumplings.  Spicy pork balls.  Bamboo Butterfly.

Music, wine and little tapas style plates.  Eating bits of everything, laughing and enjoying the music.  Dumplings are super crunchy; pork balls are super spicy and the bamboo butterfly…crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  Wait a second.  I take a closer look.  Bamboo BUTTERFLY.  In the pupa stage.  Even with a picture.  Nice one Forang.  They were pretty good, actually.  And by the way, two for one in Bangkok means that you get two drinks for the price of two drinks.  And if you have three, instead of four (because while I am a silly Forang, I am not stupid) you still get charged for four because it’s two for one and three is not divisible by two.  It makes perfect sense.  You see, I’m practically native.

laughing-at-us

Once we finally got to the Royal Palace, even the statue is laughing at us!

The next day, now that we’re fully integrated into Thai culture, we figure we can go for the big time.  Just take a taxi down to the Grand Palace for a little tour.  Now you need to know that this area  is tourist central.  Mad house. Think Roman Coliseum.  Think La Rambla in Barcelona.  Think pick-pockets and cons.  Think “RUN!!”  But we KNOW Thailand now.  We live here.  We’re ready.  Easy enough.  Grab a taxi and off we go.  As we get close to the Palace, I realize that we can save at least 5 baht (15 cents)  if the driver stops a little early.  I holler, “Tee NEE, ka!”  (Here, please.)  Such an expert.  We get out of the cab and start our leisurely walk to the Palace gates.  On the way, a nice man, wearing a police logo polo shirt stops us.  “Hello, the gate to the Palace is here.  I’m here on holiday from Phuket. I work for the government.  You live in Min bur EE?  Then, let me help you get a good deal on this Tuk Tuk down to the Thai long tail boat ride that I just took.  I loved it.  One hour.  No shopping.”

And, we did it.  

Oh, the boat ride was nice.  Thank God I saved that 15 cents because we were totally ripped off.  We even had to pay to get OFF the boat.  Yep.  Another nice one Forang.

smiling-all-the-way-to-thebank

Smiling al the way to the bank.

side-of-train

Sky train to Minbur EE….I think.

Needless to say, all we wanted to do was take our deflated selves back to Min bur EE.  So, we hop the subway to the skytrain.  Headed home.  Expertly done.  On the train platform, another Westerner approaches us and asks about directions to the airport.  “Oh, it’s the same train we’re taking.  Just come with us.” We board the train.  We chat.  He’s heading to Vietnam.  I ask if he knows about getting a” Visa on Arrival” (which I know about since I’m an expert) and his face falls in disbelief.  “No, I don’t know about that.”  So I quickly google it on my phone because as an Expat of 12 weeks, I have a local service.  Thankfully, we were there to save the day and he got the information he needed.  But, then I realize that I haven’t been paying attention to the train stops.  Where are we?  I listen carefully to the overhead loudspeaker.  “Blah, blah, KA”.  Is that our stop?   Yes.  Definitely.  “Blah, blah, KA” is where we need to get off.

Well, it wasn’t.  And, next to a freeway, finding a cab willing to drive to Min bur EE was close to impossible.  Time to Uber.  At first, no cabs took the call.  Then we got one!  We waited.  They cancelled.  Then, out of the blue, a Buddha taxi pulled up.  Over time, I’ve noticed that some cabbies have Buddha icons on the dashboard.  This driver patiently smiled and  listened and figured out where we needed to go.  Exhausted, humbled and very grateful, we finally made it home.   
Thank you Buddha guy.  

monk-making-a-call

Maybe he called our cabbie? “Hey Joe. Forang needs help. Right. Thanks man.”