Sunday, November 28, 2010

ordinarily extraordinary

    I wake up every morning around 6:30-10:00am.. mosey around for an hour or so getting dressed checking my pile of clothes for money I may have left in the pockets.. and off I go.

    yesterday I completed the morning routine getting ready for the day which either means bringing my backpack to prepare for anything the day may have in store for me, or bringing nothing except roughly 3 dollars to see what will happen. .. check facebook, maybe eat a little cereal, keys, cellphone, wallet, and out the door. 

    get to the main road not knowing if I will turn left or right. aaand left sounds good. and the day goes as follows. taking turns going down roads I have never been down until I am lost and then just keep going forward. eventually I found myself somewhere I had been before and go down another road until I find myself lost again... and keep on going.. lots of sights. lots of smells. not all of them the most pleasant, but absolutely the real Thailand. 

    It is behind the scenes of Bangkok. the advanced city with cars everywhere, traffic at a stand still, with all the comforts of a western modern city. But walking a little further past the glint and glamour that grabs the eye and you will see the people. as I walked I saw the simple life. walking past the gardeners and the street cleaners as they ate their lunch and called me over to see if I was hungry and wanted to eat with them.. you don't have to go very far to find the heart of Thailand, but you have to go off the beaten path from all the attractions, malls, bars, and massage parlors to the narrow street markets and restaurants that seem so crammed that you can just barely make it through the hustle bustle of bargaining, and buying.

and how time does fly

highlights of the last month.. where to start.. yeah I am terrible at this blogging thing.. tried to do every week.. haha.

ok so I went up to the mountains once or twice one called Kao Yay or something like that. funny storry how I got there though.. was basically trying to get to know my way around the city because I don't get to do much more than walking which is hard to see much of bangkok because it is huge.. so I asked a friend to show me some places we walked around drove in their little 1980 pink VW Bug yes it was a girl's car.. and did a little exploring. eventually we met up with some of her friends in the city as she had no clue where to bring me, and long story short they invited me up to their family resort/apartment/boutique in the mountains and off we went, 5 of us smashed in the pink 1980VW Bug for the 6hr ride into the mountains where they have worse potholes than in RI.. yeah goodbye herbie. it was nice knowing you.. despite certain doubts, we actually made it to their place alive. A quaint little place semi-secluded in the crisp cool mountain air which was a great relief from the luke-warm exhaust of Bangkok. I was not made for the city.

up in the mountains we picked fruit, painted walls, cleaning the place up for a group that was going to rent it out, and did a little exploring, swimming in the natural streams.. pretending like we spoke italian and rambling random gibberish with a few italian phrases and lots of hand movements..
and of course either they spoke fake Italian or real Thai in which I was lost in both cases although the fake Italian was rather insightful. stayed up there for about three days.

 uh. spent some time with friends around the city here and there leaving the city, and then the most recent 3 week trip "out of bangkok." which deserves it's own post so I will save it till a little later..

don't worry I will remember most of what happend.. I took pictures (:

for now


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

it's been..

    So it has been a while since I have blogged last. time seems to go faster than I can keep track of what has been going on. bangkok is like nowhere I have ever been. when I first arrived here the city was all too familiar and all to foreign. now things are starting to settle into place as I learn the language and learn the history not just of the country but of the people.

    This city is a city of opportunity but much of that is also an opportunity for the wrong types of business such as smuggling, prostitution, corrupt business deals, or buying off government officials. one moment I walk past a school, a fitness center, and the next alley rivals vegas for it's light show maybe not quite sin city, but an evident center for the prostitution and drugs flowing through the city. This is where the jobs are most, but this is where the needs are most as well with slums being common place and what money is meant to help the people is just as commonly stolen and run away with.

    I have been able to get involved with some of the slums with my parents and some other locals who volunteer their time to teach english and to spend time with the street kids who may not be able to go to school or have many opportunities.

    Although Thai lessons are very interesting and I enjoy learning the language, due to the extensive commute and pace of lessons I have started to go less frequently in turn to learn more on my own and to get some more hands on experience in how to speak and how they are really pronounced instead of a more academic take on the language. This also gives me a little more time to get some other things done such as blog, edit photography, or even just stay connected to friends back the states.

    Recently I was able to go on a trip outside the city with some friends and my parents a 3 or 4 hours south of Bangkok, my first real exposure to Thailand outside of the city. It was a very good break from the incandescent lightbulbs and pavement to walk on the sand and swim in the ocean which was quite warm even at night.

    I look forward to getting a more complete view of Thailand than the limited view that I have now with a very advanced city in some respects and yet resembles an american society 50 years ago with strict schooling, standards and respect that are part of the culture, and a growing economy.. However with this rapid development, you can see the layers of development as some of the city still seems to be 50 years in the past and others to be cutting edge advancements. With the change in the infrastructure in the city also comes a change in the mindset of those who live here such as the youth who some abandone many of the traditions that have been a part of society for a more modern take on how to live.

   From what I wear, to what I eat, to what I use for currency.. there are many changes in living in Bangkok. I have been wearing pants for most of the time only wearing shorts maybe once every two weeks now, however it is not really different than the Thai people who wear jeans just the same. of course the food is a little hard to get used to. yes some of it is very good, but then again I feel as if I eat the same thing over and over.. yes rice is with pretty much everything you eat, but with pork, or chicken, or seafood, eggs, or with rice. rice, noodles, eggs... every so often I will get something out of the ordinary or hit up one of the BK's with some friends or maybe even DQ. Big news to Bangkok.. yes Krispy Kreme came to Thailand this month. But if you eat off the streets from some of the many street vendors.. you will be eating rice or eggs or pork or noodles and most often with fish oil and pepers.
Then there are many fruit vendors who have a variety of fruit with pineapple, guava, watermelon, cantaloup, and maybe dragon fruit, star fruit, mango, or some other random fruits. there are also some seafood vendors who have small open barbecues on their carts with squid, fishballs, and other seafood, or bubble tea vendors, or icecream vendors..

    There is a pretty good variety, but I still need to really see a larger part of the city or country to really get to experience the wide range of tastes which are Thailand.

   Yes there are many differences from the US, but people still hurt and bleed and they still need Christ.
well for now that is it. I will be posting some pictures up on facebook of things just because it is a little easier just to post them one place.
       here is a link to my photo albums where you should find them easy enough.

hopefully be posting new ones soon enough

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

here is a quick update. not as much time over here as in the US. ..
me and the parents have been taking thai language lessons for about a week and a half.
a daunting and very time consuming task, it takes about and hour and a half to get there, and then spend 2 hours in class with our Thai tutor khruu(teacher) Jum. it is a regular schedule, but does not allow for much study time between lessons due to the fact that nights tend to get a little more busy with Bible studies and church get togethers. fridays a group of guys eat a smorgasbord of leftovers from the week.. mostly from the imperial palace delivering food to one of the guys who works at one of the palace run schools..
saturday we went to one of the slums to teach a little english to the kids who live there... saturday night is a worship/teaching night for a good group of people with great messages and music. afterwards we go out to a little local restaurant to grab some cheap food and good company..
for now that's it... keeping busy.. trying to clean up the schedule and add some photos..
trying to edit a few more photos to get them on the computer.

keep us in prayer as always.

Friday, September 10, 2010

highlights of the weeks

So as I had said before, my parents and I have been here for a few weeks now,  and through the weeks have experienced many different aspects of the Thai culture. From my excursion to get my haircut under great motivation from Apple because "Thai girls like clean shave", to stoping by the motorcycle taxi drivers to watch them play a chess-like game called something like "mock luke" I have been able to catch small nuances of the Thai culture. Even in the fact that they will spend around a half an hour making sure every hair is cut right at the barbers, or the taxi drivers inviting my dad to sit on the curb with them and challenge him at a gam of mock luke show volumes about the people. 

One weekend we were able to go to the weekend market which is a 45 minute ride away, but when you get there you could probably spend the next 45 minutes walking from one end of this massive array of shops to the end. Going into malls and shops looking at bikes that fold up, swords, pretty much anything you could immagine somewhere in this bazaar. the trick is finding it if you want it.

Also that weekend on sunday we were able to visit a little girl Usna who had lost one of her legs bellow the knee after the drunk motorcycle taxi driver they were riding with fell with her and her brother on the tracks. She was able to push her brother out of the way of the train, but lost her leg in the process. It was a joy to spend the evening with her as she is still so full of life and very bright as she practiced reading english with Dwight one of the guys from church who has been tutoring her as she has been out of school and as he was one of her teachers from before hand. 

Later that day we went to a street vender who sells fruit smoothies. they are filled to the brim with fresh fruits and vegetables to the point you are drinking pure goodness through a straw.

last week has flown by for the most part with few adventures here and there as I try to get out on my own in the city a little bit more. from bartering with shop keepers to trying new foods, the times has gone well. a bit of the time has also been at House By The Pond, the new apartment area that we are staying at. it is hard to describe because it is almost a mix between a resort, a rainforest oasis, and an apartment complex. Some of the days are simply spent on the roof of one of the buildings by the pool reading a good book, with  the many areas to sit and relax in the shade of giant palms and bamboo and whatever other exotic trees they are. 

One of the many blessings of staying here is having a place where we can get together with friends and chill. a good amount of days we have had people over and it is nice just to sit either by the pool, or in the living room and talk. 

Of course I do still go to other places like the New Song Cafe which is a sort of hangout spot for people where you will meet some of the most amazing and interesting people in Bangkok. One of the days I walked in and one of the Thai girls asks me in Thai if I speak Thai.. following is a brief silence that means "I have no idea what you just said and if you asked me in Thai if I speak Thai, this is me telling you that I don't speak Thai" after finding out that I don't speak Thai there comes the follow up Questions. "Are you a Christian?"... "Do you Love Jesus?".. "as Christians we are supposed to love your neighbor"... "I am your neighbor.. Do you Love me?"... "will you help me with something?" 

I then proceed to help her with her masters Thesis paper. Although I do not normally take editing Masters Thesis papers as fun, her dynamic personality made any discomfort disappear. I spent the rest of the day there for the night of worship they were having at church.. it was packed like a can of sardines.

The next day sunday was much more laid back because everyone had been preparing for the night of worship, so there wasn't really a teaching perse, but more of a time of sharing God's insights and experiences. Following church I spent the rest of the day with Mae, the Masters student with the Thesis paper needing revisions. Alas that was a full day although it sounds slightly dull checking her english to make sure it was correct, it was one of the best days I have spent in Thailand. I finally finished all 50 some odd pages at the end of the two days.. victory.

It shows you.. God can send a random foreign guy that you have never met to help you revise the grammer your paper a few days before it is due in the hands of your professer. He works in mysterious ways.

Last weekend we were able to visit one of the slums that a few volunteers, Lexi and Michelle, have been living and helping with. it was an amazing opportunity to get to know some of the locals living there although most of the getting to know them was nonverbal as learning the language is still hard in the process. 

To get to this specific slum though we had to take the river taxi which is basically a rather large boat that reminded me of the Jaws ride in one of Florida's theme parks which gave me no end of enjoyment. It is slightly different from the ride though in that you have a much shorter amount of time to get on or get off and they will stop very quickly at the water stop, and then they are off at breakneck speed. Usually they aren't very flush with the dock either, so you kindof have to jump. to tell how risky it is, we saw one of the locals being pulled from the river after trying to get aboard the taxi.

However I feel like all Bangkok transportation is just a little bit crazy. Not to say that I don't enjoy it, but when I get into a taxi on the roads one of the things that crosses my mind is always.. GO SPEED RACER GO!!!.. as we weave in and out of traffic at speeds that would challenge some New England drivers. Then there are the busses which are too fun with their doors wide open trying to beat the taxi drivers. 

We had a nice trip yesterday venturing to one of the larger parks in Bangkok walking around and looking at the giant lizards and palm trees. I was able to take a good amount of photos there too, so now just to get down and actually put them on the computer.

As in all cities there is another side to Bangkok that contrasts the river taxi and slum community as we go to eat at little restaurants that seem to have food that was intended for the palace enjoying some creme brulee and tea.  Last night even was quite exotic as Dwight hosted a desert bar to raise money for charity. the deserts were what you would picture in magazines that would have insane prices on them. ice-creams, mango custard, little pastries, sweet grass jelly juice,cakes , tapioca, all very exotic and many wrapped in banana leafs for decoration. and for the ride back to the sky train(BTS) we get to ride in the hotel's beautiful old mercedes.

this morning some guys from church are coming over to hang out, so I should probably get ready, but I will hopefully be back within the week with new tales to tell of the adventures here in Bangkok.

here are a few new pictures that I have taken

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wed. 9.8.2010

so here we go again.

I have been in Thailand now for about.. uh.. long enough to lose track of how many days I have been in Thailand.

So far it has been a good ride learning and experiencing many new things about the culture and people. Each day has held some sort of adventure through the last two weeks as I have dived headfirst into the unknown.

Tuesday 8/24/2010 continued...

So I finally woke up after much deliberation and went downstairs to the cafe which is the second floor to the church. Said hi to some of the guys who were hanging out there and in the end was going to Bangkok's giant mall MBK with literally thousands of shops with Apple who had adopted me as a surrogate mother. Yes. Apple is her name. by the end of the day she had persuaded me to go to a barbers to get a haircut after much discourse and I now have les hair on my head although I retain my beard in all it's glory...

more stories later today.. time to find better wifi connection

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Adventures In Thailand.

Adventures In Thailand.

Friday 8/20/2010
Day 1 air-travel
   leaving from the Logan airport in Boston still with the faint tastes of the Penang restaurant's delicious prawn mee still on my lips me and the Rents(parents) say goodbye to the rest of the fam until again we are together which could be a while. I will be in Thailand for 9 months from Friday 8/20/2010 until 5/15/11 whatever day that may be.

    On the airplane for the 8 hour ride to London for our 12hr layover, we head out around 10:00pm as our 9:30pm flight was slightly delayed. we ended up getting into  London the next day around 10:00am me not knowing quite what to expect, although my dad had be there before although maybe 20 years earlier, so a vague memory if that. 

Saturday 8/21/2010
Day 2. air-travel
   The first thing I noticed as I looked out the airplane window out to London was.."their steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car" of course I knew they also drove on the other side of the road,  but it was still odd to see.

   We started off with our two carry-ons each to the London Tube; the subway type transportation popular there. Unable to find some sort of luggage storage that charges less than 75$ for the lot of our bags, or £8(pounds) per bag with an exchange rate of roughly 1.5 dollars/1pound we ended up carrying the bags with us which was slightly less than ideal. yet we still were able to get around, we traveled to buckingham palace and I was able to see the changing of guards. Something that was a once in a lifetime experience. (pictures to come) We then went to Big Ben heard the chimes, and Westminster Abby where we rested for a while taking pictures walking down the streets nearby and traversing the gift shoppes.

  Around 5:00pm we attended the Abby's evensong service. another once in a lifetime experience with the Latin spoken word, all boys and men choir and Bible reading. At last we headed back to the Tube and lastly to Heathrow airport for the 10:00pm flight. Sadly after going through Security my mom realized that she didn't have her purse with her, but had set it down at the gate where our passports were checked. Unfortunately security was not able to find it there either because someone stole it, one of the airport employees had put it to the side and now is misplaced. We are still trying to locate it so keep that your prayers. Finally we got on the plane and started the 14hr flight to Thailand.

Sunday 8/22/2010
Day 3. air-travel
    After sleeping most of the flight we were at last at Bangkok. Going one last time through border security we grabbed our bags at baggage claim and to find the van that would be taking us to our new dwelling place in the apartments that are over the church my parents were a part of when they were last in Thailand. 

    Walking up the stairs to the Cafe and then a few more small sets of stairs until we were at our lovely.. Studio apartment. it is a little crammed having only the one room and a bathroom, but it works.. other than when I have to sleep as my dad renacts a ML5(local magnitude) earthquake with his seismographic rumble. 

    After I had gotten settled in I went downstairs to check out the place and hung out with some of the guys who go to Newsong Bangkok Church where we stay. Of course I was able to find a guitar and tune it and spent a few minutes playing until my dada asked if I wanted to go out fr a bite to eat. We went to one of the local Thai restaurants that they used to frequently go to just for a quick bite and then back to the house to finish unpacking. it is cheaper to eat out at most of the restaurants than to buy food at a supermarket and cook it ourselves costing around 2.00 for both me and my dad that night. we went for a quick walk around so I got a quick familiarity with the area, a close by mall and local park.

Monday 8/23/2010

    The next morning we went out for Thai omelets or Khai jiaao from one of the local street vendors that my parents had befriended last year and had become close to even though she speaks very little english and my parents speak very little Thai. We went through the mall again and walked to the apartment my parent's had stayed in last year. It was beautiful, and perhaps we will be able to move to one of the apartments over there which would be better for me in terms of somewhere a little better to sleep, and a little more breathing room with common room at the building that I can go to to read or work on my computer. We also wen't on a 20 minute walk to a another part of Bankok called carrefour where we went to a nice restaurant for hotpot. it was around 200 baht for all of us to eat. It is around 30baht/doller.
We explored the area, and then returned back to the place all the while I practice the Thai number system.
nueng(ning), 2 song, 3 sam(psalm), 4 see, 5 har(ha), 6 hok(ho), 7 jed, 8 bad, 9 gao, 10 sip, 11 sip et, 12 sip song, 13 sip sam...20 yee sip, 21 yee sip nueng, 22 yee sip song...
30 sam sip, 31 sam sip neung... 40 see sip... 50 har sip... 100 nueng roi(oy), 101 nueng roi nueng...200 song roi...300 sam roi.... 1000 nueng pun.......

Tuesday 8/24/2010

    That night I stayed up on facebook .. all night until around 8:00am and slept until 11am when we went to the pastor of the church's house for dinner by way of sky train and taxi. I was able to meet more of the people who go to Newsong with Pat the pastor's wife although he wasn't there,their two daughters, Yo one of the teachers and leaders at Newsong about 25 years old give or take, Bee a local who had some amazing stories to tell. even of some things like when she lived in Hongkong as a maid and how whenever some of her friends got lost in Hongkong how they made their way back to the Church they went to out there because that was the only place they new how to get home from. It was a very nice evening being able to practice some Thai, hearing their amazing stories as well as eat a simply delicious meal. 
    On the way back we walked along the sidewalk along the street vendors and their wares and then to the church where Maria one of the churchgoers and some locals were practicing their breakdancing. Maria is one of our neighbors who rents at the church Apartments with an amazing story of how she ended up in Thailand from Switzerland, but for now I will be trying to get a little sleep. try not to duplicate last night since In a few hours I will have been up 24 hours straight it being 3:11am.. well here is for a new day and a new adventure.

Wednesday 8/25/2010